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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 to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or 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.

337 pages, Hardcover

First published May 7, 2019

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About the author

Nadine Brandes

7 books2,583 followers
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.

(See her dorkiness on fully display on her Instagram and her YouTube)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,117 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
January 29, 2020
This was such a solid Anastasia retelling! Out of all the ones I've read, this one is definitely a stand out. It had such a strong family presence that I connected to instantly and I adored the magical elements that came into play. It was devastating at times, but ultimately such a great story!
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,374 followers
July 19, 2020
***Advance Review Copy generously provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Romanov family fascinates people for a century. Well, mainly their end does.
And I was curious what Nadine Brandes would do with the story. And mainly how she's going to end the story, that's what I'm always curious to see.

I believe that the book had great potential. However, it seems a bit like a miss. Like the story is always the one note away for me to really enjoy. But it's still an enjoyable read, and I think that you won't be disappointed reading this.

Roughly the first 60% follow the Romanov family from Tobolsk to Ekateringburg. Here, it seems very precise. The author then said that she did a lot of research. However, it seemed like she mainly used the Wikipedia article about the Execution of the Romanov family. There are some sentences that seem very similar. Or they might have the same source. (No judgement, only stating my subjective feeling).
However, the result is that it seems a bit textbook said from the POV of a teen girl. And I'm not sure this is the desired result.

Then the last 40% is a fiction. Following the myth that Anastasia and fully developing the fantasy element of this book.

Strangely enough, I prefer the textbook beginning. Why? Because it at least makes sense. Unfortunately, the author seems to be lost when she suddenly does not have a history to follow. What to do now? And suddenly there are so many problems for me to unsee.

I have several things I need/want to point out.

- There is a lot of Russian words used to describe things. Budenovka, fortochka, droshky. I understand all of them. But, I really doubt that someone who does not speak a Slavic language will know all of them. And unfortunately, it is not a good thing to be forced to google things, especially in fantasy. Also, I saw that several times the Russian was done wrong as well. In a basic sentences. If I remember correctly the "Good morning" was wrong.

- The Romanov family was shown as the nicest people ever. And while I understand that of course, Anastasia would love her parents... It does not work. The author claims extensive research, but here I believe she fails. Nikolai was very much a family man who loved his wife and children. But, he was a very bad tsar. Meek. Under the influence of his wife who was HATED by the Russian people. But here Nikolai is suddenly the perfect leader who leads his family and supposedly was a devoted leader to his people. It seems fake. Romanticised. (But I have to say that I loved the relationship in the family! Well written).

- The book should have started at a different point; not everyone is familiar with the Revolution and the Romanov family. If the book started maybe with the abdication, it would make more sense. Explain why Nikolai was forced to abdicate. Why people hated him and his wife. Explain Bolsheviks, Mensheviks. Why the revolution started, how badly the Russian people were affected by the First World War.
And I wish Grand Duke Michael was at least mentioned in the book.

-This is one of the problems. People need knowledge. One time Nicholai talks about his cousin King George V of the United Kingdom. But he does not say his name and people are left guessing. Or confused.

- There is a lot of talk about the White Army, but once again I felt like it was very confusing unless you know the history. And by the way, correct me if I'm mistaken. But wasn't it the Czechoslovak legion that was reaching Ekaterinburg? They were going East so that they could go back to Czechoslovakia if I remember correctly.

- Also, Maria went with her parents first and once they left her sisters sewed the jewels in their dress. So, how is it possible that Maria wore jewellery in her dress as well in the end? The jewels had to be put there before leaving Tobolsk but they started to do it once Maria left.

- Do I have any Russian friends here? If yes, please, help me here. Zash. I'm really confused by the name. I know the name Zasha exists, but I never saw Zash. I know that защитник (zashchitnik) means defender. But is there Zash as a name?

- Also, Zash is supposed to be from an aboriginal tribe from Siberia, but his description makes him sound more Scandinavian than Siberian.

- Talking about Zash.

- And the ending:

- Also, Anastasia is injured if only cracked ribs, but she was starved for months with a minimum of exercise. She's wearing a skirt, corset and heavy coat. But suddenly she's able to walk for a day while carrying her brother. Then she manages to jump out of the train on a horse and then from horse to the train... Oh, I almost forgot, MOVING train. I'm saying no. Making her a superhero is stupid and I hated this part.

- The problem with this book is simple. It tries very hard to be historically correct but always fails in small things which matter. And it does not work with the fantasy element. I want to believe that if it was fantasy all along, different names, different family, setting it might have worked. This book needs to be more fantasy, or more historically correct, the mix right now is very in between and seems artificial.
Profile Image for Nadine Brandes.
Author 7 books2,583 followers
October 24, 2018
Any ANASTASIA fans in the room?

I have been DYING to share this news with everyone! ROMANOV will be another historical fantasy standalone. And now that I'm squealing, I'm at risk of revealing spoilers (BECAUSE I'M THAT EXCITED.) For those who want a teensy more info about the book's inspiration,you can find it in my dorky YouTube announcement.
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.7k followers
June 23, 2022
Less than one month ago, when I finished this book, all I had to say about it was the following:

"you know when you read a book and you can already tell you're not going to remember a thing that happened during it?


somewhat of a review to come"

And now, approximately twenty-five days later, I remember almost nothing about it.

When I was a kid, I had an Anastasia obsession prompted by the excellence of the animated movie, a penchant for fairytales, and an interest in conspiracy theories and mysteries. And even though any chance of Anastasia's magical survival were brutally murdered in the late 2000s, I truly didn't learn of that until, humiliatingly, like 2 years ago.

That embarrassing blow, alongside my turn to anti-capitalism and lack of interest in wealthy monarchs the world over, killed any remaining curiosity I had.

Just in time for me to read this book.

This was a fine, unmemorable entry into the young adult canon, and I will probably never think about it again.

Bottom line: Not my cup of tea! Sorry!

tbr review

well, i started using netgalley.

my tbr should fear me.

update: i waited 2 years to even start reading.


challenging myself to read as many review copies as possible this month because i'm addicted to projects!

ARC 1: spaceman of bohemia
ARC 2: in search of us
ARC 3: aerialists
ARC 4: the sound of drowning
ARC 5: unleaving
ARC 6: the other side of luck
ARC 7: romanov
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
June 21, 2019
like many girls born in the 90s who begged their parents to take them to see the groundbreaking film ‘anastasia’ in theatres, i too have fostered a lifelong obsession with all things romanov. i would never claim to be an expert on russian history or the imperial family, but i have read loads of books about the subject. and because of that, i have a lot of thoughts about this novel. so bear with me.

first, i think this a good novel for anyone looking to dip a little toe into the romanov family pool. this does a decent job at describing the conditions and routine of the family whilst they were in exile in ekaterinburg. i can tell that brandes did some research and i like how she presents the difficult circumstances in a really approachable (albeit simple) way for the reader.

however, this glimpse into their life, all the way up until the night of the murders, takes up a good 2/3 of the novel. like i said, ive read many books about the romanov family and i was excited to pick up this retelling because of the promise of magic spells - what a neat twist on history! but until the fantasy element even comes into play until the last 100 pages or so, this just feels like any other book ive read on the subject (almost word for word, in some places). it just feels like a weak attempt to integrate a magic system into the story, so i am a little let down in that sense.

i do think this is an informative novel and one most people will enjoy. but the fantasy aspect did not have a prominent focus in the story and its nonexistence left me feeling disappointed. overall, i didnt hate this, but it didnt quite meet my expectations either.

3 stars
Profile Image for Viburnum (hiatus).
22 reviews237 followers
June 23, 2020
I liked Romanov. Really, I did.

The settings. I expected more, except what should be descriptions of places were nothing more than tired, uninspired snippets of text. And sure, there was that whole house arrest shebang, so it'd be unfair of me to fault the setting for being as claustrophobic as it was, but I guess I can fault the writing for being so atmosphereless. Which brings me to the worldbuilding.
Ugh, all that wasted potential. For the most part, the worldbuilding was lost in a sea of vague, confusing information, and there was nothing to anchor the details to anyplace specific, or y'know, to twentieth-century Russia.
And I am so, so cheesed off. I mean, seeing as how the Russian Revolution was happening at the protagonist's literal doorstep, I was hoping that at some point, I'd read something about… hmm, an actual revolution? But nope, nada. Moving on.

Then there was the plot—which, to be honest, felt more like two mismatched halves than a whole.
Alright, so I did like the slowness of the first half. The unfortunate thing was that this slowness worked against the novel later on—going into the second half, there was a significant pickup in speed, and it was jarring enough to pull me out of the ride. What's more, some parts of the plot were incredibly contrived, aand I'll leave it at that, lest I start yanking my hair out.

Regardless, there was something about Brandes' portrayal of the Romanovs that touched me. The fabric of their lives worn and unravelling at the seams. And the unwavering thread of love running in between, binding them all together.
And I have to applaud Brandes for her writing, for her playful yet elegant turn of phrase which imparted such a fierce vitality to Nastya's voice. Because the truth is, I adored Nastya, whose hope shone bright and unrelenting throughout the darkness and despair. Someone who possessed a deep compassion for all her people, who loved friends and enemies alike. And in the end, Romanov was as much triumphant as it was tragic—a story about suffering and loss, but above all, about survival and forgiveness.


note: note: thank you to nadine brandes and the publisher, thomas nelson, for the arc! this review reflects my honest thoughts, and although i know i wrote more about the bad than the good in this review, i'm not discouraging people from reading this, because i did appreciate this book for what it was. and like i said, it did touch me in the end :)
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
March 16, 2020
Ended up listening to it anyway so that I can give this book an informed 1 star and discuss it better with my book club (virtually!;()

What I learned from this book - Authors, they are as dumb as the rest of us, even though we think they are smarter just because they had some books published. They are also as good at half-ass research. It's clear Nadine Brandes has done just enough wiki-ing to get some historical background for her horrendous "love story" (how would you like to fall for a guy who literally . First class romance here!) and managed to absorb no historical context whatsoever.

And can I just comment on the word "matryoshka"? I think I've heard this word during my entire 20+ years of life in Russia fewer times than it is mentioned in this book. Nobody is obsessed about matryoshkas except tourists.

That's a big NO from me. Real history is infinitely more complex than this vapid royalist matryoshka magic dreck.

Just because you've learned what pelmeni are, doesn't mean you are an expert on Russian history and can revise the past in such a ridiculous way with a sappy romance to top it off.

P.S. Book club fail # million and one.

P.P.S. I will never understand the Disney-fication of one of the most gruesome slaughters in history.
Profile Image for Zainab.
384 reviews530 followers
July 11, 2022
I do not understand why none of y'all are reading this book at this very moment. Honestly just drop whatever you're reading because I assure you it's not half as good as this book.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the *children* version of Anastasia. I don't really care for it because I find the true story much better. (Please look it up if you don't know)
Anyway, this is a retelling of Anastasia (as if it wasn't clear) It involves spells and stuff and feels like a better nicer version of the actual story. Sure the dark parts are still there but not half as bad as what actually happened.

Okay so I just realized that if you don't know the actual story then this sounds like gibberish but if I do write the story, I'd be giving some major spoilers so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The book is beautifully written and undoubtedly one of the most underrated books of the year.
Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 8 books126 followers
May 19, 2019

Please do not mistake the lengthy ramblings below for "I-read-the-whole-book-and-here-are-my-thoughts," but rather, "I-decided-not-to-continue-and-here's-why."

*deep breath* *cracks knuckles*

Romanov is a historical fantasy novel starring 16-year-old Anastasia Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. We learn within the first few pages that Anastasia, or "Nastya," aspires to become a Russian 'spell master' (i.e., practitioner of an ancient brand of magic that lets you speak special words & thereby receive powerful favors). We also learn that Nastya's teacher/mentor in the basics of this art was none other than Grigori Rasputin.

There's a lot to unpack there, so let's start from the beginning.

First off, this type of "spell magic" is the exact same thing that got so many Christians so upset about Harry Potter. Now, for the record, I don't have a problem with HP; mainly because HP to my mind is clearly not intended as a representation of our real world. Howeverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I do think spells like these become a lot more--shall we say--Murky when they're introduced into a real-world, historical setting [like the Russian revolution] and when they involve real, historical practitioners of black magic [like my man Rasputin over here].

Because that's who Rasputin WAS. You can't get around that part of his reputation. And you definitely can't convince me that his historical reputation as "Powerful, Successful Dabbler in the Occult" wasn't a big part of the reason why he was chosen for the fictional role of "Powerful Magic Teacher" in the first place.

I was, as I say, disturbed. But I was willing to continue reading to learn more about what sorts of things this fictional magic system does. I soon found out.

On page 11:

"Thirteen years ago, I'd watched Mamma and Papa open a layer of that painted doll and release the now-forbidden spell that brought us Alexei."

[Alexei being her younger brother.]

Yes. You read that right. These people have a magic spell that allows them to conceive a human baby.

And not [if I'm reading this correctly] to 'help' conceive, not to cure dysfunction or whatever; but to literally, directly conceive a child. To create new life where none existed.

Do you See *rubs nose pensively* do you Begin to See where the Problem might lie, Jeeves?

Real talk: I am not comfortable with seeing the power to create life allocated to human beings, through magic, even in a fantasy world with no God. But, this ISN'T a fantasy world with no God!!! This is our real, historical world, populated with real historical figures who profess to believe in God and Jesus and the Bible; and yet, when they wanna make a baby, they turn to magic and not to prayer. Which is . . . disturbing. The fact that this magic [allegedly, according to the story logic] ACTUALLY WORKS is 1000x more disturbing.

Like. Would you mind telling me, Mr. and Mrs. Romanov--would you mind telling me just WHO you imagine sent you this baby; and WHAT he/she/it/they might stand to gain in return?

Moreover, I'm not at all comforted by Nastya's assurances that this baby-creating spell is now "forbidden." Sure, maybe they don't use it any more; but they used it at least once? And it worked?? And now they have this living, breathing kiddo walking around who (by their own admission) was FedEx'd to their parents' bedroom from Somewhere in the Cosmos, and definitely not from the Big Fella Upstairs??? I can't get on board with that, people. I just can't.

The ONLY WAY I could continue reading this book with a clear conscience is if I had assurances that the whole point of the story would be overthrowing the magic system--if Nastya's character arc were aimed at her realizing that Rasputin had led her whole family astray and that she should never touch any of these spells, ever again. That, however, isn't the impression I get from other readers. In fact--I've been told that the climax involves Nastya using a spell to

Life is sacred. There is a reason we mere mortals don't get to control it. It should stay that way. Even in fantasy, I believe, it should stay that way.

And Rasputin was horrible.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

*peace out*
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
April 28, 2020
First things first. Why and how does a story of a brutal slaughter of a family become not just a Disney cartoon¹ but then a retelling of that cartoon, with magic thrown in? It feels incongruous to me having magic randomly thrown into the prettified version of a gruesome murder.
¹ I have never seen the Disney cartoon (apparently, actually Fox Animation) based on the Romanov family execution. All my knowledge going into this book therefore is based on the actual historic events, and I have zero sentimental connection to the cartoon story. Which is probably responsible for some of my baffled reactions.
Stories based on significant historic events and concerning significant historical figures, especially those in the relatively recent past (and a century is an eyeblink as far as history is concerned) are always interesting. How you deal with actual people in turmoil of history can show skill and respect and levels of sensitivity that are in my opinion strongly necessary.

To me, this book failed in that respect.

Dealing with the last months of a family condemned to brutal death in the middle of history- and country-shattering events is powerful stuff. You can address things that are terrible and uncomfortable. Or you can create what I can’t help but think of as a middling formulaic YA story with all the typical pitfalls and cliches.
Now, before I get scolded for putting YA stories down, I must say I love a lot of what is viewed as YA genre. Many of my favorite books are YA. Because in my opinion a good book is a good book, regardless of the age of characters or intended audience.
But this one is just that good.
It is overly simplistic in the historical background and motivations for characters and events. I get it that story retellings are popular, but when your premise is: “Let’s do Russian Revolution and brutal slaughter of a royal family — but with magic!” you should really think your worldbuilding through. Or you can just throw a few random “spells” in and call the job done.

I’m really trying to understand the audacity of condensing the horror of Russian Revolution, terror and class struggles and hardships of WWI, the deep-seated political and social divides - to a war against spell masters, based basically on a misunderstanding of Rasputin and the saccharine-saintly tsar family, with caricaturishly evil Bolshevik villains just kinda hating spell-casters.
“After Rasputin, the people grew too suspicious of spell masters, convinced they could control minds. So the revolution began—forcing Papa off the throne and hunting down spell masters one by one.”

“What’s happening to the spell masters now? Are they . . . stopping their work?”
“The Bolsheviks are hunting them. Forcing them to either serve Lenin or die.”
“What is Lenin going to do with them?”
“He’s promised to make spells accessible to everyone. Someday.”
I tilted my head. “That doesn’t sound so terrible.”
“It sounds like a good solution, da? Simple. Equal. But if the spells become free and distributed equally, who pays the spell masters? How do they live? How do they eat?”
The magic and the rest of the story do not organically come together. Instead the spell-casting feels clumsily tacked on, clashing with the horror of the actual reality-based events. It’s painfully incongruous.

Perhaps the way to save it could have been not to retell the story of the Romanovs but to use it as an inspiration for an original fantastical world where magic is present, and the royal family slaughter resembles that of the Romanovs. Or just write a book about the doomed royal family and their life in the months before their execution. It’s a grim subject, but you can make a powerful story there - but please don’t shoehorn unnecessary magic that feels like a MacGuffin into the story of a brutal murder of a family that you somehow made into toothless and vapid book that reads as though it’s aimed at children and is full of all the cliches.
And our lovely heroine! Don’t even get me started. A spoiled rotten, shallow and vapid brat who acts like a preteen ( “My favorite grin slipped out—the one that preceded a particularly fantastic prank.”) and whose attitude frequently reminds me of that (likely made up) anecdote about Marie Antoinette’s “Why don’t they eat cake?” bafflement.
“What if my rash actions resulted in the danger I so desperately sought to avoid?”
With a generous sprinkle of insta-love, of course.
“Alexei waggled his eyebrows. “Does Soldier Zash liiiiiike you?”
I snorted. “Certainly not!”

“But he didn’t understand my life, needs, or upbringing.
And I didn’t understand his.
But I intended to.”
Now here’s my sincere confusion. What’s the deal of randomly peppering the supposedly Russian speech with random Russian words page after page? They already are speaking Russian, aren’t they? Do we need to be awkwardly reminded of it every few paragraphs? Unless we are supposed to think that the majority of the Romanovs’ conversations were carried out in another language - which while possible, would still make the random insertion of Russian words strange and inorganic.

Oh, and what kind of name is Zash??? It doesn’t exist in Russian. I mentally just substituted ‘Sasha’ and it felt much less jarring.

Oh, and finally - shades of grey do exist in this world. But according to this book, the sun might as well shine out of royal nether regions. With no subtlety. Just an overabundance of blind royalist devotion. And if you don’t feel it, you gotta be a monster. Blergh.

Yeah, not good. I stand by my early assessment made a third into this story - A strange palate cleanser of sorts after reading a string of excellent books.

2 stars.
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,626 followers
May 23, 2020

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
No one can out shout a revolution

If the Romanov family lived in the Harry Potter world, it would be this book. Inspiring, beautiful and captivating, I could not have loved this book more. Now, I know that not a ton of people enjoyed this book which honestly doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, what’s not to like. No, wait. Don’t answer that.

So, what’s this book about
Romanov follows Anastasia and her family who are under house arrest. They are doing their best to escape their captivity. But when they try, they are shot to death. Or are they? Using magic, Anastasia and her friends escape. And now they must stop their captors, the Bolsheviks.

Anastia - "I opened my mouth to protest. How I loved protesting.” - As you can see, Anastasia is rebellious, which I obviously loved. But aside from that fact that she’s willing to fight for herself, Anastasia is also kind and caring. Throughout the book, she is constantly putting herself aside to protect her brother and family which is nothing short of inspiring.

Zash - Broken and afraid, Zash is that character that you just want to hug. He is afraid that his family will get hurt and to protect them and himself, he joins the Bolshevik army which ends up causing lots of feelings for both him and Anastasia. He is torn between loyalty to The Red Army and his loyalty to Anastasia.

I’ve always had a soft spot for retellings. I mean my all time favorite book is Stalking Jack the Ripper which is, in fact, a retelling. There is something so interesting and fun about reading history or an already existing story but with a twist. Somehow, you know what to expect but you never see the plot points coming at the same time. I love it. I can only imagine how fun it would be to basically re-write history.

I loved the magic/fantasy twist that Nadine Brandes put on the Romanov. I do wish that the magic had been explored more. I loved that they could use spells but I wish we had some explanation. I felt like it was explained with the It’s magic so it works cheat. If we end up getting a book two (and we better get a book two), I want to see the magic explained. I think that once some of the rules are cleared up, it will become so much more believable and overall enjoyable.

Finally, I loved the theme of forgiveness. Throughout the book, Anastasia had to choose whether or not she wanted to forgive her enemies and captors. I loved that the book recognized that forgiveness isn’t a simple word. It’s a battle that takes courage and insurmountable strength.

In the end, you should read this book. If not to get your fantasy fix, than to be inspired and encouraged.

Bottom Line:
5 Stars
Age Rating: [ PG-13 ]
TW: Murder, Suicide
Cover: 5/5 ~ Characters: 4/5 ~ Plot: 4/5 ~ Audio: 3/5 (That narrator's fake Russian accent was not great)
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Best Format: Hardcover/Paperback

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Profile Image for Ivana - Diary of Difference.
567 reviews732 followers
October 30, 2022
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From the author of Fawkes comes a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov.

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Ever since I read Fawkes, I knew I loved Nadine’s writing, and when Romanov was announced, I couldn’t be happier. As I have spend my childhood and young adult life in the Balkans, whilst travelling across Europe, I have always admired Russia, and always enjoyed reading all the theories about the Romanov family.

As a child I would be told stories and fairy tales, I would watch the Disney adaptation of Anastasia, and as I was growing up, I would read history books and fiction on this very subject. When I got my hands on ‘’Romanov’’, I knew I would be up for an adventure, with lots of expectations, but what I never knew was that I would be blown away of how beautiful this book is!

This book is split into two main parts, before and after the Romanov’s execution, but it is also split into the first being the historical part, and the second being the fictional part. Both parts of the book are quite intense, and very different emotions come up to surface, but they are both very powerful throughout, and fitted together quite well.

In the first part, we are introduced to the Romanov family, and how they are kept as hostages by the Bolsheviks. It would’ve been much better if we had more details on the pre-hostage period, why the revolution began, why the king abducted the throne, who are the Bolsheviks and what they believed in. The book starts in the middle of this whole situation, and whilst I knew the beginning before, I am certain a lot of people wouldn’t have.

The history, as much accurate as it was, also had a personalized feeling that the author wanted to give. I have to admit, a lot of the details, especially around the family were quite accurate. The family did stick together and loved each other, they did have secrets and they did make friends with their captors. Anastasia’s brother did indeed had hemophilia and Rasputin was allegedly helping him. However, the author decided to put her personal feelings into the history as well. The king is presented as a wonderful leader that cares about the people. I understand that we see this story from Anastasia’s point of view, and as his daughter, she is supposed to see her father as the best figure in the world. But I still believe this part should be more objective, if not from Anastasia’s point of view, then at least by the king’s actions and dialogues. The other big element that bothered me was the portrayal of Rasputin. He is shown in this book as a family helper and a kind man, when in fact, he was far from that. In the history books, he is described as a madman, a creepy person, and the king was not happy of him coming in the house. The family’s secrecy and the queen’s silent domination over the king, together with Rasputin’s doings were the start of the revolution, and I believe that it one of the required truths that this books should have included, but didn’t. And that troubled me.

On top of this, is the Russian language used throughout this book. There were a lot of spelling errors, and misinterpretations. And whilst I can understand these words, many people can’t, and translation wasn’t provided in the book. Also, I really found this quote interesting, talking about the Russian culture, and how they don’t show emotions. Just a note – this is most of the time true, people won’t be nice to strangers, but actually, Russian people are quite friendly and emotional as well.

‘’We Russians weren’t required to share any amount of emotion we didn’t want to.’’

Apart from these few things that slightly bothered me, I really enjoyed this book. Anastasia is an amazing character, and through her we can see her love towards her family, her country, and even towards the people that wish her harm. We get to see her love, cry, be hurt, be afraid, forgive, and grow throughout the book, and her journey was magical.

‘’As I lay in the grass next to the spell that could rid me of heart pain, I realized that a part of forgiveness was accepting the things someone had done – and the pain that came with that – and moving on with love. Forgiveness was a personal battle that must always be fought in my heart.’’

I loved the beginning of the book the most. The setting was well-written, and I got the feel the same way as the Romanov family did. They tried to act as if everything was normal, when in fact, they were held captive, and moved out of their home. They weren’t allowed to go out in the garden often, and when they did have this opportunity, they enjoyed every single second of it. And they all had hope every single day. They kept smiling and stayed together.

There are number of scenes that will always stay close to my heart – the relationship between Zash and Anastasia (as unrealistic as it might be), always kept me on my toes, his desperation, and his guilt, and her ability to forgive and love regardless.

The brother’s illness, and his persistence through it. His motivation and his will to never give up. The love he holds for his family, and especially his sister Anastasia, and the toughness and not letting go. A few scenes were unrealistic with him, as I hardly believe anyone suffering from hemophilia can survive all those injuries mentioned in the book and the pools of blood, but above all – this character did achieve what he was meant to do – show hope where there is none.

A wonderful and magical tale, with a history behind it of a mysterious family, especially their end – this book brought tears on my eyes and made me think about the power of forgiveness and love. A true masterpiece.

Thank you to Nadine Brandes, for letting me be a part of her Ninja Team.

Thank you to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and NetGalley, for providing me with a complimentary ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for zuza_zaksiazkowane.
379 reviews33.9k followers
August 12, 2020
Hmmm.. 3.5 Była inna niż się spodziewałam, bardzo mało tu fantastyki - jest tylko jeden element który jest „magiczny”, reszta to przygoda i dramaty byłej carówny rosyjskiej. Podobało mi się, świetny klimat, naprawdę dobrze wykreowani bohaterowie i bardoz ciekawa fabuła. Wątek miłosny... No cóż. Nie był najgorszy 🤷🏼‍♀️ nie umiem wyjaśnić dlaczego nie oceniam tego wyżej - po prostu ta książka mnie nie pochłonęła. Ale na pewno jest godna polecenia. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Lily - Books by Starlight.
451 reviews199 followers
May 6, 2022
Y'all. I cried. I literally sobbed. Maybe it's because I'm melodramatic and hopelessly sentimental? But I know that if I were Nastya, I know I wouldn't have been able to control myself. I would have , and the fact that she didn't wrecked me. 😭 Someone help. Someone please help.

I don't know how to write a sophisticated review for this book. I can't get my thoughts together, but seriously, if you haven't read Romanov yet, you need to read it! Quit hanging around reading people's reviews about it and go read the actual thing! 😂

What this book had: Great writing, close family dynamics, bonds between sisters, forbidden love, enemies to lovers, historical references, amazing characters, a unique magic system, a strong female character, grief, lots of grief, lots of pain, a plot twist, and a happy ending.

The first half of the book is sweet and beautiful. The second half is raucous and thrilling and ever so painful. I know people are complaining about how Rasputin was portrayed in the story and how he was actually a bad guy and how the magic wasn't historically accurate, but come on! Romanov was from the Romanovs' POV (duh!). Is it so far-fetched that the Romanov family would view Rasputin kindly? Of course not. Brandes never confirms or denies Nastya's opinions on the man, but she needed to establish a main antagonist and that needed to be Yurovsky. Making both the Bolsheviks and Rasputin evil wouldn't have advanced the book in any way. Rasputin was already dead. He wasn't even in the actual story. It's not that I like the guy (I don't), but again, it's perfectly reasonable for Nastya to have thought well of him. As for the magic system, I do think that some parts of it were quite strange. It reminded me a bit of The Story Peddler, where the "magic" and "spells" were more creative and imaginative than anything else.

In the end, Romanov's themes spoke louder to me than any faults this book might have. I trust that this story will be one I'll be recommending to others for years to come.

ೄྀ࿐ Quotes ೄྀ࿐
☐ “Romanov. For that name alone, bound to my blood like a Bolshevik is bound to the Russian Revolution, I am destined to die. Because not even royal blood can stop bullets."
☐ “And hope never abandoned us - only we could abandon it.”
☐ “No amount of age, pride, or maturity could stop me from loving my papa with the heart of a little girl.”
☐ “My blood is my crime.”
☐ “I squeezed his hand, so tight it likely pained him. But sometimes comfort needed to sting more than the sorrow for it to break into the grief.”
☐ “It is if you separate the two- old life and new life. But once you learn that it's all one life and each day is a new page, it gets a bit easier to let your story take an unexpected path.”
☐ “Let no one call you tame.”
☐ “The best place to hide an item was on your person. But when you couldn't manage that, the next best place was to hie it in plain view. People searched there last.”
☐ “But there was still light - we were just learning how to find it.”
☐ “Peace, quiet, and safety are all well. But community and relationships are what truly fill a person's life.”
☐ “Papa always said that tears were the most fervent prayers, so I let them flow.”
☐ “Nothing was more exhausting than putting forth kindness and receiving indifference in return.”
☐ “Can their hearts be softened?” “It’s not up to you to soften theirs. It’s up to you to keep yours soft.”
☐ “Curse those Bolsheviks. I ought to poke holes in the soles of all their boots!”
☐ “Those who cannot laugh cannot properly live.”
☐ “Revenge would have shattered us both. But you've given us the opportunity to be strong. To mend our hearts instead of break them further.”
☐ “The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time.”
October 28, 2020
”The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory and time”.


Honestamente, no sé cómo empezar esta reseña. Romanov es un libro que pretende darle un giro un poco fantástico a la historia de esta famosísima familia rusa y, sobre todo, al mito de que Anastasia sobrevive a la ejecución de toda su familia. Sin embargo, me encontré con varios problemas mientras lo leía.

No soy experta en historia rusa, ni mucho menos, pero sí que estudié bastante todo lo que llevó a que el zar Nikolai tuviera que abdicar su trono. Sé también del odio de la gente hacia la emperatriz por su relación con Rasputín. Y, además, también recuerdo lo que motivaba a los bolcheviques y la historia del exilio de esa familia real. Y, honestamente, siento que si alguien quiere leer este libro y no sabe algo de este período de la historia, va a quedar perdidísimo. Sobre todo porque la autora decide empezar el libro cuando los Romanov ya están en el exilio de Tobolsk. Entonces, si no sabes cómo llegaron allí, no vas a entender de la situación política ni por qué están exiliados. En fin.

Más allá de eso, Romanov es un libro bastante plano. Al menos las tres primeras partes de la historia se sienten como una lección, pero una lección en la que no aprendes mucho. Ves cómo vive la familia Romanov en el exilio y cómo los mueven de Tobolsk hasta Ekaterinburg. Además, siento que todas las personalidades de los Romanov están bastante idealizadas. Es decir, es obvio que Anastasia, que es la narradora, los vea con unos ojos tremendamente amorosos. Pero, de nuevo, una persona que no sepa nada de la historia real, va a creerse que los Romanov eran unas blancas palomas que nunca le hicieron daño a nadie.

Ahora, el twist mágico que ideó la autora para darle un toque de fantasía al libro tampoco me encantó. Muy en la línea de Rasputín, se dice que en esta tierra existen los spellmasters, que básicamente pueden crear hechizos con una tinta especial. Pero, claro, después de la abdicación y de todo el odio que amasó Rasputín en su contra, los bolcheviques han prohibido la spellmastery. Pero Anastasia siempre soñó con especializarse en ello, al menos en los hechizos curativos, para ayudar a su hermano Alexei, que tenía hemofilia.

Mi problema con este toque mágico es que, cuando entra en juego en la trama, no pega absolutamente nada con la historia. En vez de estar leyendo la trágica historia de cómo todos los Romanov terminan ejecutados por un pelotón de fusilamiento y luego apuñalados por las bayonetas, te sientes leyendo un episodio bastante cuestionable de Ghostbusters. En serio, no me gustó para nada que ese tipo de magia se usara para justificar el mito de que Anastasia sobrevivió.

Y luego… si hablamos del romance, madre mía. Durante todo el libro, al menos mientras está vivo, el zar Nikolai le dice a su familia que deben respetar y hacerse amigos de los bolcheviques, pues así su vida será más fácil. Y Anastasia se vuelve bastante amigable con Zash, uno de los soldados. Y luego, spoiler alert, él es el soldado que termina disparándole a ella cuando los ejecutan. Pero, claro, como ella sobrevive por la magia, luego se da cuenta de que Zash está arrepentidísimo y quiere ayudarla a escapar. ¡Y, aun sabiendo que fue él quien le disparó, siente cosas muy fuertes por él! I mean… ¿Es en serio?

En fin, todo es un poco absurdo con este libro, de verdad. No digo que no lo haya disfrutado porque, al final, la narración logra atraparte y te lo acabas rápido. Pero yo, como amante de la historia, no podía dejar de poner los ojos en blanco con algunas cosas que madre mía. Creo que, a pesar de que no cuenta prácticamente nada, es mucho mejor la película animada, de verdad.
Profile Image for Erin.
3,094 reviews484 followers
May 8, 2019
Hi, my name is Erin. I have been under the spell of books since I first met Anne Shirley at age 7. Some stories/periods of time I will return to again and again. I am not here to recover, I just attend to get more recommendations and eat these cookies.

This historical fiction/fantasy standalone takes readers to Russia in 1918 where Tsar Nicholas and his family are being imprisoned by the Bolsheviks. One hundred and one years later, the tragedy of Russia's royal family still captivates many, including this particular reader. I liked Romanov but I didn't love it.

The story is told through the eyes of youngest daughter, Anastasia (Natsya) Romanov. Imprisoned with her parents Nicholas and Alexandra, sisters; Olga, Tatiana, and Maria and brother Alexei, Anastasia brings to life the families last months of life. Rich in historical detail, what has been passed down about the Romanov's and their guards is all there on paper. Nadine Brandes adds some dark magic and spells to push her narrative a little farther in scope.

Now I have read previous books that discuss alternative history from Anastasia, Maria, and Tatiana's point of view and how they escape from their tragic fate. Aside from the magic that is new, I felt there was a lot of sameness in this book. The romances with guards, the Rasputin subplot, and the promise that whatever character has survived is going to live this incredible life albeit in secrecy. I wanted a bit more fireworks for this story.

All in all, the release of this book is definitely going to bring the story forward to a whole new generation of readers. My hats off to Nadine Brandes for her dedication to getting her version of the story out there. I wish it had happened that way.

Goodreads review 07/05/19
Publication Date 07/05/19

 I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jane Maree.
Author 9 books107 followers
May 12, 2020
Reread: I loved this even more the second time through!! So beautiful, raw, and powerful.

ROMANOV is a raw, real story, full of pain and hurt. But it's beautiful. It's full of love and light and courage. Courage to hope beyond the hopeless. It's the kind of story you don't just walk away from unchanged.

I was blown away by the characters. Every single person who appears on the page, even if they're only there for a few chapters, has a heart and a story and a reason. They're like living, breathing humans.

I loved the relationships between the Romanov family. The sister telepathy, the father-daughter. It was all so pure and so real I could feel it. Nastya (Anastasia) was such a perfect narrator for this, and I connected with her so deeply.

No spoilers, but the romance was beautiful.

The story is an amazing mix of historical truth and fantasy. The magic system was simple, but I loved it like that. The different twists and turns of the story, the style, the author's heart in every scene had me hanging on each page for more.

Some content warnings. I try to keep the spoilers to a limit, but enter at your own discretion:

This is a MUST re-read for me. I loved it so, so much, and I can't get enough of it.

Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
527 reviews180 followers
May 9, 2019
"Let no one ever call you tame."

THIS WAS FANTASTIC. I don't think it tops Nadine's Out of Time series (because that one truly is just the most fantastic thing ever), but it's still so, so, so good.

Anastasia (or Nastya, as she is called in this book), was the feisty and strong-willed heroine we're all tired of--except she wasn't! She was so complex, and her drive to protect her family was beautiful. She was mischievous. She cared about people. She truly struggled with her desire to love people, even when it was hard. The protagonist of a story really makes it for me, and AGH SHE WAS BRILLIANT.

I think I liked Zash best overall. I love the conflicted male leads who want to do the right thing but also want to protect people but also don't really want to die. He felt so real. I wish we'd learned a little more about the things that made him tick, but in the end, he was amazing and I have 0 complaints.

Alexei! Was! Awesome!!!! I''ll always love sassy little brothers, and Alexei just asdfkaghdafjdkkl. So presh. So sass. Much love. <3 Also his illness was handled so well and I appreciated that very, very much.

The rest of the Romanov family was so precious and made me cry (oh, Maria...). Ivan was a sweetheart who did NOT deserve his fate. Yurovsky was a disgusting villain; Avdeev was just as complex as the other characters. I loved how character-driven this novel was! So goooooood!

Also, can we just talk about how beautifully short this story was? It was only 300-something pages, which shocked me when I took it out of the package, but which, I think, is perfect. It never felt slow, but it also never felt too fast-paced. I loved it.

My biggest complaint overall is how quickly the grief seemed to get sidelined. Overall, though, that's a small issue.


Romantic stuffs: Nastya has feelings for one of the guards, but I never found it physical-attraction-based (HALLELUJAH) and it was very clean. One of her sisters has a tragic romance, which was very chaste and sweet and also RIPPED MY HEART OUT. RUDE. There's rumors that Nastya's mother had an affair, although no details on that are given beyond the bare rumor itself.

Language: Nothing.

Religion: This story is way less Christian-based than either the Out of Time series or Fawkes. The Romanov family does some praying as a family, and reads the Bible at one point (I think?). They pray to "Iisus," but beyond that, there isn't much theology or Christian stuff going on.

Magic: the spells are crucial to the story. Most of them are "healing" spells that can fix someone's body in a very specific way. It's a much less intricate magic system than in Fawkes, and I found it significantly easier to understand xD

Drugs/alcohol/abuse: one of the commandants is always drunk. The soldiers tend to be very appropriate with the Romanov girls, although one of them slaps Nastya's sister at one point.

Violence: people are shot and beaten. Someone tries to choke another character. Dead bodies are mutilated (not in detail) and acid is poured on them. There's some pretty profuse bleeding, especially from Nastya's brother, who has hemophilia. I didn't find any of this overdone--it's hard to look at, but it's realistic and necessary.

Overall, 4 stars, and totally worth the wait and preorder!
May 29, 2019
July 2018:


May 2019:


Feeling #1) That. Aside. MIND. BLOWN. (Teach me your ways, Nadine!)

Feeling #2) I A-D-O-R-E-D the Romanovs' family bond! It made me think so much of my own family. I LOVED IT.

Feeling #3) Pg. 152. I still haven't recovered. *sobs*

Feeling #4) Pg. 212 made me cry ALL THE HAPPY TEARS.

Feeling #5) Ch. 31. NASTYA, YOU LITTLE SPITFIRE KICKBUTT HEROINE YOU. solr hgb srogosos lsrhsgnlgh EPICNESS.

Feeling #6) Romanov was SO GOOD. It wrenched my heart out of my chest and stomped it into the ground but IT WAS GOOD.

My one complaint was that I didn't love Romanov quite as much as I loved Fawkes. Which IS preference! I just missed the immersiveness (is that a word?) and buckets of tears Fawkes supplied.

BUT. BUT. Romanov was amazing nonetheless. The relationships! The forgiveness! Just... my heart. <333

Now what are you waiting for? GO READ ROMANOV!
Profile Image for lucia meets books.
284 reviews140 followers
January 11, 2021
"Because I have a story I was meant to live. And not even you can unwrite it."

When I first saw this book I was so excited for it to come out because of that stunning cover and the fact that it is a Romanov's retelling. I have to admit I hardly knew the basics of what happened to the family so I was hoping to get more information through this book (which now I know wasn't the best idea). And when I got approved for an ARC, I couldn't have been happier.

"We are Romanovs. The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory and time."

This book is told from Anastasia's ("Nastya") point of view and in my opinion she was a quite great character, mainly because of her pranks and "misbehavior" which were amazing because they made me realise that she could get away with anything due to how quickly she could come up with a plan. Moreover, I really liked the dinamic between the family members and how everyone took care of each other when neccesary.

On the other hand, the main aspect of this books that prevents me from giving it 5 stars is the fact that the other characters felt very plain, they had a main characteristic and from that came all their attitudes and decisions, they did not have layers nor depth. We got to witness some backstories but they didn't feel real to me, it was as if I was just reading something that happened instead of actually feeling like I was there in that moment, which is what I look for when I read a book.

And lastly, the end was predictable, there was not a single moment were I feared something bad would happen to any of the characters. But it wasn't only that, it also felt unsatisfying because it ends on an open ending, unless it has a continuation but for the moment this book is a standalone and I'm not used to standalones ending like this lol.

"No one could outshout a revolution."

To end on a more happy note, what I did love throughout the book were the quotes and Nadine's writing style. The introduction to the book is incredible, so powerful that gets stuck in your mind for a while, at least that happened to me. I highlighted so many quotes that give the vibes of "just get up and do it", the three I wrote in this review are only my favorites.

Also, at the end we are told which things in the story were actually real and which ones were fiction or a stretched version of reality. I was positively surprised to see that because I wasn't expecting the author to let us into her creative journey the way she did and I really appreciate that.
Profile Image for Marina.
923 reviews167 followers
July 12, 2019
When is it okay to change history? And is it okay to change or rewrite history that doesn't belong to you?

The execution of the royal Romanov family is a touchy subject. It is a tragic event set during a bloody time, followed by one of the best and the worst times in Russian history.

Let me put it to you straight. I'm not a royalist or anti-royalist, a communist or anything of that sort. But I am Russian. And I personally find this book both ridiculous and a little offensive.

I say a little, because the book isn't completely unaware, but it still mostly takes the side of the royals. Plus it makes Rasputin into a good guy, which is really fucked up.

The book is set during 1918 when the Romanov family was already in exiled and held under house arrest. In... real history, WWI was still happening, in fact WWI was a huge part in why the Russian Revolution and the subsequent Civil War happened. What were the other reasons? Huge wealth disparity between social classes, people had no food to eat, the massacre of 1905, costly wars that were lost, inflation, Nickolas completely mismanaging the army and the government, and being a shitty Tsar in general. And he wasn't known as Nikolas the Bloody for fucking nothing.

Still, did the family deserve to get shot like dogs in a basement and then disposed of like garbage? Of course not, few people deserve that.

They're also not the only royal family that ever got overthrown and executed. But they are one of the few that the Western public has a fascination with and continues to romanticize. In my opinion thanks to our girl Anastasia, and the long held belief that she survived. Unfortunately, that mystery has been solved, and her remains found. Still, even that hasn't stopped Western authors from finding ways to keep Anastasia alive, in this instance - magical.

It's clear that Brandes did her research. Also, on her author's note she states that she grew up among Russians, learned Russian, and visited Russia multiple times - which to me says she's fairly familiar with the culture. It's why she felt inspired to write this story. And I don't have a problem with any of that... I do have a problem with certain liberties she took and historical changes she made. For example, she definitely adjusts the language for the American reader, and while the Russian words are sprinkled liberally, they're usually immediately defined, like valenki boots, or fortochka window. Which, is one of the most awkward ways I've seen it done. Usually authors try to define the words in context, not so directly. There were also a few factual and language errors throughout the book.

The magic is the obvious change, which again, isn't a problem, but I did take grievous offense that she made the magic the reason for the Revolution, and the Reds desire to hunt down magic users. Of course, we are mainly presented with Anastasia's point of view, and she denies that her father was a terrible ruler, disconnected from their people - because he took them camping and taught them to start fires and love each other. She definitely comes across as a naive, sheltered princesses who sees the truth as evil propaganda and themselves an innocent victims. Again, I'm not saying they deserved what happened, but you know what, the Russian people deserved food to eat.

Also to make Rasputin a good guy?? He was a cultist, a fucking criminal, a con artist who used religion to take advantage of a desperate mother, which led to wide spread corruption and mismanagement of court while Nikolas was away. He wasn't some holy spiritual leader providing guidance to the Tsaritsa misunderstood by history. But a disgusting charlatan that helped the downfall of the country.

Most Westerners, especially Americans don't know much about the Russian history because they simply don't teach it here. Or they go over it just barely to explain the rise of Soviet Union - the Big Bad - which I guess is why the Russian Revolution is seen as so bad in the US. It literally gave birth to one of their greatest enemies. And oh, they love making Soviet Union to be the Worst, again, not out of sympathy for the common Russian people who were being sent to Siberia and the gulags to die, no, but because they posed a threat to the West.

Anyway, fuck this book and any like it that attempt to romanticize the Romanovs without critically looking at why the Revolution happened. Or at least acknowledging it in some way. Because you know what, maybe the Romanovs didn't deserve to die, but they weren't blameless victims either.
Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,014 reviews2,070 followers
September 15, 2023
✅ Russia inspired
✅ Anastasia retelling
✅ Good characters
🆗 Magic system
🆗 Setting
❌ Romance
❌ Pace (plot drags on, and then is too rushed)

2.5 stars

I'm in for any Anastasia retelling, but I was expecting more for Romanov.

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.

I thought that this story would be more about survival and escape, but the firing squad scene does not happen until the second half of the book. The book describes well the routine and living conditions of the Romanov family while they were in exile in Ekaterinburg... For about 60% of the book if not more. The author knew what she was talking about, she obviously did some research, but I was just waiting for something more exciting to happen. Something other than the Romanov family making friends with the guards and living their everyday life in isolation. I don't like rushed stories, I like it when there are details and I can enjoy a good medium-paced story, but the first part of the book dragged on for too long. Then, the last third was so fast-paced, so many things were rushed and half-explained, I couldn't really enjoy it. I also did not enjoy the rushed, cheesy ending at all.

This story goes from being a very descriptive historical text to pure fiction, with a magic system that was not much developed in the first part of the book, and it is such a big difference in genre, I am not sure this was the desired result. Even though the first part was longer and not much happened, I think I still preferred that part because at least it made sense. The ending feels rushed, Nastya suddenly uses her magic abilities and there are too many things that bothered me for me to truly be able to enjoy it. The romance suddenly developing between Zash and Nastya is also problematic for me, I couldn't get into it at all, I didn't find it believable. I can't point out exactly what or why, but I did not enjoy the romance and I rolled my eyes more than once.

The setting is quite bland, we know where the characters are, but that's about it. The descriptions are minimalist and after 200 pages of the family being imprisoned in the house, I still knew nothing except that there were a few rooms, stairs, and a garden. The same thing can be said for the world-building, it is all vague and nothing really made me feel like it happened in 20th century Russia. There is a revolution, but we only know about it because the Romanov are hoping for the white army to rescue them and the Bolsheviks are guarding them. That's it for your big revolution, no more details, and not much excitement. It would have been nice if the story started at an earlier point in history, just to give the readers a chance to understand better the revolution and the reasons why Nikolai had to abdicate.

The characters are a strength of this novel at least. We got the chance to really get into the family bubble, I was touched by the way Nadine Brandes described them and brought them to life. They are a kind family that seems to truly care for their people (as much as a rich noble family can care) and only wished to be allowed to remain together. They tried to be compassionate towards their guards and to find happiness and peace where they could.

Overall, I think that anyone that wishes to learn a little bit about the Romanov, with a touch of magic and romance could like this book, but do not expect a big action-packed story.

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Profile Image for Madison Ramaget.
28 reviews3,839 followers
January 25, 2022
"The bond of our hearts... spans miles, memory and time" ♡

Parfois quand je mets 4 étoiles c'est plus un 3,5 ou un 3,75 (vraiment Goodreads, tout ce qu'on demande c'est de pouvoir mettre des demi et quart d'étoile là blblbl) mais là c'est un vrai 4/5★ !

Par curiosité je suis allée lire quelques reviews après ma lecture et j'ai vu que les avis divergeaient beaucoup, ça a été un coup de coeur pour certains et pour d'autres ça ne l'a pas fait du tout. J'ai vu beaucoup de critiques par rapport au fait que des choses ne collaient pas avec l'Histoire de Russie, qu'il y avait des incohérences, que la magie n'avait pas sa place dans l'histoire, que tel personnage fictif n'aurait pas dû être introduit, etc. - j'me demande si ces mêmes personnes se plaignent aussi en regardant le dessin animé Anastasia mdr 😭. En tous cas pour ma part tout ça ne m'a pas du tout dérangé et j'ai passé un super moment de lecture !

J'ai eu l'occasion de me renseigner plusieurs fois sur l'histoire d'Anastasia mais je suis loin d'être calée à 100% du coup j'ai beaucoup apprécié qu'à la fin du livre on retrouve des notes de l'autrice qui précise qu'elle a été la part de vérité et la part de fiction dans son roman. Elle recommande également de lire les livres de Helen Rappaport sur la famille Romanov si on veut s'informer davantage, et qu'elle a elle même passé beaucoup de temps à lire The Romanov Sisters et Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs.

Bref, je me rends compte que je n'en dis pas énormément mais je ne veux pas en dire trop non plus, sachez juste qu'en amoureuse du dessin animé et de la comédie musicale Anastasia, j'ai beaucoup aimé ma lecture et j'ai passé un agréable moment à suivre l'adorable famille Romanov et surtout la jeune Anastasia. Je vous laisse vous faire votre propre avis si vous êtes tentés de découvrir ce livre à votre tour ☺️

En écrivant tout ça, je repense d'un coup à la série Reign dans laquelle on suit la reine Mary Stuart. C'est basé sur des faits historiques mais il y a énormément de différences avec ce qui s'est passé en réalité, et ça ne m'a pas non plus empêché d'adorer cette série qui fait partie de mes préférées. Perso je trouve que certains sont parfois un peu trop à cheval sur l'Histoire alors que dans tous les cas on la connait déjà l'Histoire (même s'il restera, je pense, toujours des parts d'ombre), et je pense que ce n'est pas forcément une mauvaise chose que d'y ajouter une part de fiction, de magie, ou d'imaginer ce qui aurait pu arriver si les choses s'étaient passées autrement. Vous en pensez quoi vous ?

TW : death, blood, attempt suicide
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,645 reviews3,642 followers
September 15, 2022
About this book:

“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 survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for 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.”

Series: No, standalone.

Spiritual Content- A few Prayers; A couple Scriptures are mentioned & remembered; Mentions of Jesus (Iisus) & showing forgiveness; Mentions of prayers, praying, & blessings over food; Mentions of churches & nuns; A few mentions of the Bible & Bible reading; A mention of Heaven; A mention of Easter;
*Note: Saying spells & causing healing for someone; All about many mentions of spells, spell masters, them healing/curing others, & magical items (it should be noted that when the spells in this book are said they do not provide tangible object; one spell sends Anastasia to the “spirit realm” (like a ghost) halfway in the living and halfway in the dead); Mentions of ghosts & souls; A few mentions of sirens.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘dumb’; A few mentions of muttered curses & shouting profanities; Some eye rolling; Lying (for the safety of her family); All about exile & the possibility of being killed; Stabbing someone & blood (semi-detailed); Being shot, nearly being strangled, injured, & bleeding (up to very semi-detailed); Seeing deaths, loved ones shot and murdered, hearing gunshots, injuries, pain, deaths, their bloody bodies, blood, & bleeding (semi-detailed to very semi-detailed); Seeing someone almost commit suicide (up to semi-detailed); Many mentions of deaths, murders, executions, & firing squads (up to very semi-detailed); Many mentions of gunshots, bullets, pain, injuries, blood, & bleeding (up to very semi-detailed); Mentions of someone almost taking his life; Mentions of riots & their awful words; Mentions of threats; Mentions of stealing & thieves; Mentions of alcohol, drinking, & drunks; Mentions of hatred; Mentions of lies & lying; A few mentions of bloody bodies (barely-above-not-detailed); A few mentions of a possible lynching; A few mentions of cigarettes & smoke; A few mentions of gossip; A few mentions of beloved dogs being killed (no details on how, just that they are dead); A couple mentions of someone being runover (barely-above-not-detailed); A couple mentions of shooting a horse (barely-above-not-detailed); A mention of a dog catching a squirrel.

Sexual Content- a border-line barely-above-not-detailed // semi-detailed kiss; Touches, Hand Holding, & Nearness (barely-above-not-detailed); Wanting to hold hands; Flirting & Winks (barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of kisses, seeing a kiss, kissing, & blowing a kiss; Mentions of flirting & flirts; Mentions of a married woman spending time with a man alone (nothing happened, it was gossiped to a possible romantic tryst but was not at all); A few mentions of men who cannot keep their hands to themselves; A couple mentions of noticing; A couple mentions of jealousy; A mention of a married couple kissing; Some love, falling in love, & the emotions;
*Note: A threat towards Anastasia to tear off her clothing to find something she hid (does not happen); A few mentions of Anastasia and her sister stuffing items down their corsets; A few mentions of the bosom area; A couple mentions of girls’ figures.

-Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov, age 16-17
1st person P.O.V. of Nastya
Set in 1918
337 pages

Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- One Star
Early High School Teens- Two Stars
Older High School Teens- Three Stars
My personal Rating- Three Stars
{Not for those sensitive to executions or magic.}
Compared to the author’s previous historical fantasy, “Fawkes”, I knew much more about the history in “Romanov” than the gunpowder plot.
Heartbreaking. That’s the best way I can describe what happened to the Romanov family.
And here’s the thing: While this fictional retelling of that historic event obviously had its sad and suspenseful moments, it had hope lined with the pages and a believable end that wasn’t the “all-wrapped-up-with-a-neat-little-bow”. It had its own heartbreaking moments, moments where you could feel the pain of Nastya.
Let’s note some details for this book’s review:
-While “Fawkes” (which is in no way connected to this book; it’s just the same genre of historical fantasy) was set around the time of Protestants and Catholics, those two denominations were not specifically said at all during the nearly four-hundred and fifty paged book. I found the faith content to be missing in that novel. “Romanov” was refreshingly different in this way. Anastasia and her father would mention the Russian name for Jesus and pray along with read the Bible at different times. While still lighter faith content than I typically enjoy, I was happy to see that in this book as I wasn’t expecting any faith content.

-This book felt way too short. I was imagining that this new novel would be in the 400-pages length, so when I opened this package, I was a bit surprised at how thin it was. Less than 340 pages which is pretty on par for YA, but I do think the story moved a bit too fast at times. The ending was paced out well, though.

-On the topic of something being too fast. The romance. It really started about half-way through the book, but it seemed to develop quickly. So, that felt a little rushed to me.

-The spells. Magic in Christian Fiction is always a touchy topic. Always. In the world of “Romanov”, the spells are/were used by those who have studied and are only used for helping others. Anastasia uses a spell to provide relief for her brother when he is in pain. With the exception of someone using a tracking spell to track someone else, none of the spells/magic were used in evil/harming ways. In all honestly, the spells in this book are probably the lightest form of “magic-y stuff” I’ve read in a fantasy (not that I read a lot of fantasy, but you know what I mean.)

-While I know this book is historical fantasy, there were a few parts that seemed unrealistic. I’ll be honest to admit that I still don’t quite understand all the spell parts and such. But it was interesting. I really like Nastya’s character though that was shown throughout the novel.

So. All that to say that this was an interesting book. And that it’s not for those sensitive towards magic, executions, pain/blood, or very sensitive towards the topic of suicide. Nadine Brandes has a certain way about her writing that’s hard to describe but like a unique way of thinking through her writing. It’s different and it’s what kept me interested in her books even though I know there may be some content I won’t like. While “Romanov” definitely had its heartbreaking moments, there also were added parts that made this story a little more hopeful.

Link to review:

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Dragina.
590 reviews14 followers
September 5, 2019
Well, I've been pondering over how to review this and what I need to say to describe it adequately, but I just can't find the words.

Romanov has stolen my heart, my emotions, my thoughts, my time, and now my words.

Nadine Brandes has captured masterful storytelling at its fullest, and her author voice is beautiful enough alone. She deserves the attention, and so does Romanov.

Oh the tragedy. I almost didn't survive.

The bond of our hearts . . . . spans miles, memory, and time.
Profile Image for nadia | notabookshelf.
367 reviews165 followers
January 2, 2019
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

lots of spoilers ahead, everything is a spoiler, even if you are familiar with the historical events, spoilers spoilers spoilers !!!!

“You find joy in so many little things. For once... I want to see joy find you. Surprise you. You deserve it.”

and i deserve joy, too! i deserve to love a fantasy novel about the time period that i am so passionate about, right?
while i might think that i do, Romanov is certainly not the book to give me the satisfaction. 3 stars, could not bring myself to giving it more, no matter how much i would love to.

but let’s start off with some language trivia! good things first! besides, it seems like the thing people enjoy reading about.

valenki boots - it would be just valenki [валенки], because it is a type of winter boots made of thick, usually grey felt. points for correct spelling though!
opyata mushrooms - same thing, opyata [опята] is a type of tiny mushroom that usually grows on tree bark.
fortochka - [форточка], a small window. i smiled when i saw the word. it’s one of my favourites in the russian language for some reason, and yes, they really are common in our houses.
sidyet - [сидеть], sit down. while the word is spelled and generally used correctly, in the case where it is mentioned it would be better to use syat’ [сядь], as a direct request to sit the person down. the form used here is harsh, bordering on rude, and is normally used to train an animal, a synonym to “sit!”
shvibzik - Nastya’s nickname, is actually not Russian for “imp”, which would be “чертик” or “бес”. it is a German word that the family is using.
there were a few more, but they were used and spelled properly, so i didn’t mark them up. so, yeah, the language part of this book certainly provided.

now let’s get to the good stuff, the real Tea, the, as the kids say, Beef that i have with this book, which is pretty much everything else. the biggest issue that Romanov has is, in my eyes, confused tone and subsequent misleading marketing. the story never feels immersive, because it struggles with the feeling of the world that it tries to convey.

The Historical Part of Fiction

the first thing that caught my eye when i opened this book’s description was the very first line on the top: a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov. the story that is as heartbreaking as it is mysterious and controversial, the tale of Nastya Romanov’s alleged escape and survival is something that has been interesting to me for a while now, so i went into this book with some knowledge on the subject. my understanding was that the author would be trying to weave the magical elements into her own theory of Nastya’s escape. which, admittedly, was what Romanov was about overall; my main complaint in this section is everything that precedes the events described in the book.

now, forgive me for the pettiness that is about to follow! but i was under the impression that Romanov was a piece of historical fiction. and i like my historical fiction books to be a nod to real history, i like to read and feel immersed into the time period, i like to feel like me and the author are on the same page. the thrill, for me, is in knowing that i know the same things as the author does. Romanov was not entirely like it.

there were lots of little things that were handled carefully, which of course i appreciated. i would even go as far as to say that the first 20% of the book felt like a russian to english translation: the character’s speech and behaviour was organic and reminiscent of those i’m used to seeing in russian literature. however, it all started going downhill from there, and my excitement slowly dwindled. as the characters unfolded, i started doubting the book. in historical fiction, it is hard to portray real people the way they truly were, as there is no concrete proof of what these people were like, and i understand that i’m entering the murky waters now. in the end, Romanov depicted the royal family in a completely different way from what i know and think of them.

for example, same facts which, i am sure, the author is familiar with, could be interpreted differently, and that is all it takes to change the course of the story like this. the Romanovs truly were a loving family, and their love was what helped them survive the terror and madness that they experienced in the year of their imprisonment and execution, but Nikolai II was not the tsar that cared for the nation. not in the way that mattered, at least: it is a fact that he deemed his reign a burden and would much rather lead a much simpler life. he knew he was a weak leader. Romanov never addresses this issue, and while i understand that Nastya’s constant assurance that her father tried to do everything in his power to help Russia is likely her actual perception and the focus of the story is the family relationship, to me, it still felt wrong. with so many facts got right, with the author’s obvious attention to historical accuracy in those first 20%, i guess, i expected the trend to follow.

but that is more of an annoyance than an actual complaint, i admit. it didn’t spoil the story for me entirely, just rubbed me the wrong way. what i could not get behind at all though was the figure of the spell master. Rasputin was not a kind-hearted man with pure intentions to help the royal family, and while it is true that his figure is still controversial, it is a known fact that he was a peculiar figure, almost a madman. although his presence allegedly helped the tsarevich’s health, he held the tsarina and the whole royal family by extension under his thumb. it was his tremendous influence on the state politics that concerned those close to the Romanovs the most, which resulted in Rasputin’s assassination. the tsar wasn’t just “wary” of him; he outright protested Rasputin’s presence. i thought it was worth mentioning, because the story would’ve been completely different had it followed the more historically accurate path.

Alexei’s hemophilia is another thing that was just not a strong point of this story. no 13 year old would be capable of surviving the extensive and numerous wounds and bullets sent into their body, much less a 13 year old with hemophilia. reading about the pools of blood that the poor boy had lost and then proceeded to walk on his own with the help of magical pain-reliever only was frustrating at best.

there were more little things that i will not be listing, because they all pretty much boil down to my 18 years spent in Russia, reading the literature and history and being directly involved with the culture. lots of things that the characters did and said would just not be said and done, because that is not what Russian people would have said and done in 1918. one thing on that front, though, that kind of made me smile was Nastya’s remark on how Russian people are reluctant to show their emotions unless absolutely needed/around the people they absolutely trust like friends and family. that, yes, that part is true. we would not be smiley and friendly to a retail worker, for example, it’s just not what we do.

The Fiction Part, Then

history facts aside, this book is about what happened after the impeachment and execution. and, well, magic.

see, even if i were to brush off the historical part of fiction here, it would’t benefit the book as much as i would love it to. Romanov starts on the day the family is separated, with Nikolai II and his daughter Maria leaving for the supposed trial but being transported to another place of captivity instead. there is little to no exposition throughout the book, and i would dare to assume that the reader is expected to know at least a little bit about the historical figures behind the author’s characters. which is unhelpful, as we’ve established above already. some characters just don’t seem fleshed out at all (my biggest issue is with basically everyone except for Nastya and Alexei). even going into Romanov with no knowledge of what there people were really like, the reader is likely to be disappointed. most of them are just cardboard cutouts of real people.

but, well, i quite liked the first half of the book, which focused mostly on the Romanovs’ time in the Ipatiev house. i felt the tension, the stress, the monotony and anxiety in the air, and i thought that this was one of the best parts of the book. if i were to recommend it for any reason at all, it would be for the atmosphere in the house in the months following up to the execution.

but what is with the magic, then? it was pretty simple, and i wouldn’t say i was disappointed with it. on the last pages it actually even made me hopeful: Nastya brings back to life some of the characters, and the way the spells worked reminded me of the fairy tale magic that i know most western-european cultures mention in their folklore. i don’t know if it was dine intentionally or not, but it certainly earned half a star in my heart.

the romance was just. really inappropriate, taking up most of the narrative while somehow being underdeveloped and shallow. Nastya’s infatuation with Zash felt forced, and to be honest, most of the time it read like Nastya was constantly trying to convince herself she was in love with her guard and executioner. i couldn’t get on board with that, i felt like there should have been more development aside from Nastya’s jumbled and random thoughts about him.

Romanov was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and it left me disappointed. a lot of my friends are interested in the Romanov dynasty, and i could not wait to recommend this book to them, but that surely won’t be happening now that i've actually read it. with that said, 3 stars is not a bad rating for me: disappointing, but still enjoyable and readable. there were a few redeeming qualities that allow me to admit that i did not hate this book, i just simply did not like it. it wasn’t for me, and i think that it was, partly, on me: i expected this book to be more serious than young adult, apparently, allows for.

in conclusion, i would like to highlight my main point here: Romanov’s biggest enemy is itself. having finished the book, i am still unsure what the tone was. was it a historically accurate retelling with a bit of magic? too many factual gaps for that. was it an Anastasia retelling? then i missed the memo (note: i see people calling it that in the reviews, but the description says nothing of the sort). was it a romance story? then it was a bad one. a story of the family tragedy? well, that, maybe. but the romance got in the way a lot.

i wanted to love it, but i didn’t. although, i will be immensely happy if the people who read and liked it then went and researched the real history after. if this book accomplishes that, i would say it’s a success.
Profile Image for Lisa.
211 reviews230 followers
June 21, 2019
time for a lisa review about this lovely work of art called romanov!! first tho, a disclaimer : I have never read anything fictional or nonfictional about the romanovs and I have never seen the movie/musical/whatever of anastasia so I went into this with a completely blank slate of knowledge and expectations, totally open minded and excited to let this be my first experience of the story. with that said, onward we march -

:: I loved the aesthetic of the book!! it's really good!! and it matches the cover to perfections. there's blackness : brutality and pain and cruelty and death and darkness and violence. yesshh. there's gold : royalty and magic and great themes. and there's red: blood and love. this book would LOOK really good as a movie, I can tell you that.

:: the characters were really amazing!! nastya, for one : I adored her. she was brave, she was clever, she was sneaky, she had backbone, but above all ... she tried to be good. she tried to understand the *enemy*. she tried to NOT HATE, to NOT LET HER HOPES GET DASHED. sure, she ... failed a little. but hello, she was TERRIFIC. her father too : if he was anything like this at all irl, he was a remarkable man. alexei : this kid had so much heart, he was a KING, even though he was 13, and I want to be him when I grow up!! the rest of the fam were great too : maria and nastya's mom got the most attention of them, and I do with the other sisters had gotten a bit more screen time so I'd get to know them because I'm really not remembering a thing about them. oops. and the other characters who were not the romanovs - I have no complaints whatsoever. they were just suited.

:: I SHIPPED ZASTYA FROM THE MOMENT I READ THE BLURB AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. zash is great. he's a moody person - aka favorite sort of love interest in books lol IS ANYONE SURPRISED. if you're surprised WHO ARE YOU? anyway. I shipped. I loved shipping it. I was very concerned over this ship. but it sailed. thank heavens.

:: THIS BOOK WAS BRUTAL. IT STABBED ME IN THE FEELS. << this is really good ok - I was feeling rather heavy and dreading impending doom all evening while reading this + when I was not reading it and just *applause* good job Nadine!!

:: THEMES WERE GREAT. they were very ... high themes. like ... loving and forgiving. hard stuff. well done. I appreciate.

:: the magic!! it was F A S C I N A T I N G. never seen anything like it. I was thrown for a loop and had absolutely no idea what was going to come next, especially in the second half.

:: plot. some people say it wasn't so great cos it all happened UNDER HOUSE ARREST, but I'm like ... why complain? it was brilliant. I think it shows some skill ... writing a relatively boring event/setting in a way that makes it utterly fascinating and suspenseful and yeah I was never bored. and in the second half the action was just amped up by like 100% AND I WAS SO HAPPY. did I know where things were going? no. did I think it would be something bad? yes. was it? HAHA CANNOT TELL YOU. all I can say is, I HAD AN AWESOME RIDE.

:: the ending

:: and I just loved being in russia!! I know it had really little do with the ordinary life/ordinary setting, and was all confined to the imprisonment/escape of the royalty but still!! all the little russian-ness.

:: THE SWING!! AND THE SWING SCENES. now you know I'm a huge fan of swings and swinging and I will never stop, no matter how old I grow.

:: the thing that happened with the hair. #bigfan I know it's weird but I feel satisfied.

:: ZASH. did I mention him already? I did? oh.

THIS BOOK WAS SO brutal BUT ALSO BRIGHT IN SMALL WAYS AND I LOVED IT. (warning that it has VIOLENCE in it.) BUT HEY. I approve. wonderful historical fantasy!! Nadine does it again!! yayyyyyy ... can we all have a round of applause? *applauds*
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