In mid-August, I finished reading Romanov by Nadine Brandes. I’d heard about her books, but Romanov was the first one I ever picked up. I was trying to find a good book to get into, and when I saw that it was an Anastasia retelling, I knew that I had to read it immediately. As a little girl, I absolutely fell head over heels for the animated adaptation, so getting to revisit this story as an older girl who’s experienced a little more life since that first introduction to the Romanov family…it was really special.
“We are Romanovs. The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time.”
What a beautiful retelling of a tragic and heartbreaking part of history! I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to discover that this is an Anastasia retelling, but I’m so glad I did because this book did NOT disappoint.
As someone who’s always loved the animated adaptation, I was SUPER excited to find this book. And seeing that Nadine included a Fact Vs Fiction section at the end of the book literally MADE👏MY👏DAY👏 because I have never seen another author include that for a historical fiction story. So, massive perks to Nadine for that little bit.
Almost suicide, PTSD, gunshots, death, grief, hemophilia, fights, injuries, bloodshed, drunkenness, and magic.
What I Liked
The writing style. Nadine truly has a way with words because I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the formatting, grammatical elements, sentence structure, etc. Everything about the writing of this book made me smile, cry, or both! I cannot say enough good things about how beautifully written this book is.
The enemies-to-lovers trope. I haven’t read a ton of books with this trope, but this story is exactly how they all should work because it was perfect. It didn’t feel too fast or rushed, and it had enough back and forth to keep the relationship feeling incredibly realistic and honest and heartbreaking, but in all the best ways.
The religious elements. I wouldn’t call this a “Christian” book (even though I did add it to that shelf) because it wasn’t centered around Christianity. However, Nastya’s religion was a part of her story. She prayed, she called out to Jesus. And it never felt forced or awkward, at least to me.
The focus on family. Seeing all the siblings interact and have each others’ backs literally made my little heart so happy. It’s really rare in YA fiction to have siblings and parents and families who genuinely love each other and have a good relationship. So, watching how the family worked through things and support each other was such a beautiful element that was woven throughout the entire story.
The tension and suspense. I’m always amazed when an author is able to make normal, boring, everyday events and situations seem interesting. Those are the scenes I always struggle to write because, like, there’s almost nothing really happening. But Nadine manages to create tension and suspense in these exact scenes, which to me, is just mindblowing.
The magic. I don’t support black magic or witchcraft, but for me, the magic in this story didn’t feel like that to me. It felt like a tool that the spell masters used to help people and to do good. I understand why some people wouldn’t like the magic, but it didn’t bother me.
The bonus chapter! I was a little hesitant about it because the initial story wrapped up so perfectly, but the bonus chapter read a lot like an epilogue, so I was really happy with it.
What I Didn’t Like
The feelings this book made me feel?!? I really don’t have any problems with this book except for how badly the plot twists devastated and destroyed my heart.
Overall, this is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who loves Anastasia retellings, historical fiction, stories set in Russia, enemies-to-lovers trope, and special family bonds. I absolutely adored ever second of it, and I proudly award it five stars.
“Those who cannot laugh cannot properly live.”
“That was what positive moments were for—to help heal the wounds of the future. As long as we chose to remember them.”
“But sometimes comfort needed to sting more than the sorrow for it to break into the grief.”
“Because it takes more strength and courage to forgive than it does to enact revenge.”
“Because I have a story I was meant to live. And not even you can unwrite it.”
Check out my Romanov Playlist
About The Book
My name is Anastasia . . . The history books say I died . . . They don’t know the half of it.
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.
About The Author
Nadine Brandes once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the award-winning author of Fawkes, Romanov, and the Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine, her Auror husband, and their Halfling children are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.
Have you read Romanov? Do you like Anastasia retellings? Which retelling is your favorite? Let’s talk all things Anastasia and retellings in the comments down below!