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Daughters of a Dead Empire

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,270 ratings  ·  272 reviews
An alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.

Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war—the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to ta
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 22nd 2022 by Roaring Brook Press
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,270 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
*shock* this is a YA novel that has romance in it😲😲😲😲
Jul 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
“I prefer a peaceful revolution.”
She shook her head. “There’s no such thing.”
Daughters of a Dead Empire is a delightful and entertaining Anastasia retelling that captures the heart of the original tale in a very innovative way.

When the Russian Royal Family is murdered by revolutionaries at the end of the Russian Revolution, Princess Anastasia miraculously manages to survive thanks to a magical pendent. Devastated by the loss of her family, she must travel across a politically tumultu
Kalena W
4.5/5 stars, this was a really interesting retelling!

Thank you Macmillan for the arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

There were some really amazing aspects in this book, and it was a wonderfully done retelling of the Romanovs and their daughter Anastatia. I really love learning about the last Tsar and his family, and it was something that I chose as an individual project in school. Ever since then I have been really obsessed with their time period, and learning about what t
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was so eager to get my hands on DAUGHTERS OF A DEAD EMPIRE. It was everything I hoped it would be and more! Carolyn Tara O'Neil had me at 'Anastasia retelling,' and I was drawn into her gorgeous historical novel from page one. There are epic chases, jewels hidden in corsets, edge-of-your-seat fight scenes, and evolving understandings of the political world and those in power. Most importantly, Anna and Evgenia are beautifully drawn characters, and the story of their friendship - tenuous at fir ...more
Mar 09, 2022 rated it liked it
"We are harder than anything the world can throw at us."

An alternate history featuring someone we know very well - Anastasia - this tells the story of what might have happened if she had survived. This isn't a new idea, but it's told extremely well and quite realistically, bringing Evgenia in for a perspective from working class Russia.

I really enjoyed the friendship between Anna and Evgenia, I just really really wish the author had simply made it gayer. The connection they had, the time alone h
Katie B.
Mar 16, 2022 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars, rounded down. Just couldn't quite give it a 3 star rating, I'm afraid.

While a great idea with several page-turning and exciting sections, I felt this book was just ... lacking. The characters came across more entitled than endearing, and the plot more cheesy than challenging with lines like "it wasn't the hardness that would get us through this world. It was each other." The sisterhood between the two leading ladies seemed forced and honestly, I was indifferent to what would happen to
Caitlyn DeRouin
You can read my full review and others here:

My favorite film as a child was Anastasia — okay, it’s still my favorite film — and since the film’s release when I was four years-old, the story of Anastasia Romanov and her family is one that has stayed close to my heart.

The film inspired my love of history, and I’ve spent many many hours researching the Romanov family from a young age. While I’ve read lots of non-fiction about the family, I haven’t read much fiction surroundi
Daniele Kasper
May 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The tsar is dead and the whole nation is in turmoil. Families are starving, war is coming and Anna is on the run. She is the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her family. Her family was targeted by the Bolshevik communists because of their wealth. Wealth that Anna now carries with her, sewn into her dress. When Anna finds herself in danger once more, she makes a bargain with a peasant girl. Evgenia's brother is sick and treatment costs money. So when a rich girl with a big mouth sticks a d ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cannot wait for this book!
— m
Feb 17, 2022 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good writing. Plot full of action. Well thought-out characters.
Alda Dobbs
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Incredible historical book that covers the origins of the Russian revolution from two distinct young women's perspectives. A must read!! ...more
lina darling
Feb 01, 2022 rated it really liked it
I found the perfect Anastasia retelling! And it all began with the Tsar's execution by the Bolsheviks.

While I have not yet finished reading this wonderful historical thriller, I can most definitely say that this is now one of my favorite books.

The concepts of the world are uniquely drawn from history and what could've been if one of the Romanovs lived.

In this case, we follow our beloved Anastasia - Anna for short - as she travels through the dangers of her escape and 'tsarist' beliefs through a
Sydney Young
This YA book about a Russian princess and a peasant during the Russian Revolution grabs hold and doesn’t let go. It’s also very helpful to read right now, during this current war, as it shows people with very different viewpoints confronting those beliefs during scary situations in which leadership has really gone awry. The writing is elegant and the plot tightly woven, but the dual POVs are the gems.

Anna is on the run, having survived a cruel and devastating tragedy. Evgenia saves her from a s
Jul 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2022-reads
An alternative history about Anastasia, who was believed to have survived the murder of the Romanovs by the Bolsheviks. This book tells the story of the friendship between two girls who couldn't be more different from one another.

Evgenia saves Anna from a mob, even though she knew that Anna was one of the tsarists that her family and her communist friends are fighting against. After agreeing to Anna find her cousin in exchange for a jewel that would help her pay for her brother's health care, th
Jul 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This was the fourth (FOURTH) audiobook I've tried lately. The first three I either DNF'ed or had to struggle to get through. I had no hope left, honestly, and needed an audiobook to listen to during work, so I did what any sane person does and downloaded four random audiobooks after generally searching Overdrive.

And I was SO surprised at how much I loved this!!

Well, I'm not really surprised since I am endlessly fascinated by Russian history, but it was just so different than t
Jaime Fellis
Nov 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read an early copy of Daughters of a Dead Empire!
Daughters of a Dead Empire is a book that has long been on my radar. I am pleased to report that it absolutely lived up to my expectations! O'Neil has masterfully woven a tale that is equal parts beautiful and brutal. It neither shies away from the horrors of war or the beautiful resilience of humanity. That hard to strike balance is what makes this tale something spectacular. The historical exposition
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book had me from the get-go! I have long been fascinated by Anastasia and completely swept up in the mythology that she might have survived the assassination of her family. But this book does what so many re-tellings don't: it gripped me from the beginning.
Full, rich, and immersive world-building placed me right in the Russia of the later 1910s. I could see, smell and taste this world being pulled in so many directions.
O'Neil's heroines have distinctive voices and POVs, making the dual POV
Apr 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-releases, arcs
First, I want to give this book points for being a YA novel with NO romance. That is such a rare thing to find these days.

This novel is a retelling of the Anastasia story - in this version, Anastasia very much remembers who she is. She is trying to flee to safety across a warring Russia whilst being pursued by the man who murdered her family. She meets Evgenia, a poor girl who is devoted to the Bolshevik cause. The two become unlikely friends, and both have to take a hard look at the cause they
Carly Heath
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Daughters of a Dead Empire is a sweeping historical friendship story brimming with action, emotion, and humanity. Carolyn Tara O’Neil does an excellent job of exploring all the nuance and complexity of the Russian Revolution without overwhelming the reader—that’s quite an achievement! The reality of war and strife is brought to the forefront. Every death is felt and every emotion vivid and fully realized. I especially love how the horse is a fully realized character in the story and not simply a ...more
Kayla (krakentoagoodbook)
Feb 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Célia Cross
Feb 12, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you so much Fierce Reads Publishing, YALL Fest, and Netgalley for sending me an eARC!

"'There are occasions when a woman . . . . will become not only harder than a man but harder than anything and everything in the world.'"

Russia, 1918, Bolshevik Revolution. Anna's family was massacred and now she's on the run from Commander Yurovsky, who wants to annihilate her too. If she can reach the Whites, the tsar's loyal army, she'll be safe. But first, she must figure out how to get there first. Th
Oct 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review.

Despite the fanciful "what if Anastasia lived?" premise, Daughters of a Dead Empire is a brutal, bloody examination of the violent upheaval in Russia in 1918. "Anna" manages to escape when the rest of her family is executed and aims to make her way incognito to Tsarist forces and safety. Bribed with a diamond from the hidden jewels sewn into Anna's corset, Evgenia, a peasant girl and staunch communist, reluctantly agrees to give
Aug 25, 2022 rated it liked it
Listened via Libby. I think this book could be categorized as a young adult historical fiction - however its so violent. And yes, I know all about violence in books (I.e. hunger games) but this was different. Maybe because its about a war that really happened? I think I would have liked this book better had they cut out the torture scenes. I mean, I get this point after describing the agony of ripping one fingernail out of a 15 year old - but did we really have to describe the 2nd nail?

On the pl
Aug 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
piper anneliese
Feb 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
I 'll admit I'm drawn towards any Anastasia retelling I can get my hands on, and Daughters of a Dead Empire did not disappoint. Anna, a girl from a bourgeois family, is on the run from the Bolsheviks, and drags in the help of Evgenia, a peasant girl, to help her escape the soldiers. However Evgenia is a Bolshevik, and the two girls have to tolerate and learn to understand each other if they want to stay alive. I loved Daughters of a Dead Empire because of the character dynamics between Anna and ...more
Gloria Thompson
DNF (did not finish) at 20%

Unreasonable amount of swearing (in both English and Russian). Super YA character and dialogue. Completely unrealistic for the time period and setting. Just feels unnecessarily vulgar too. No buy in for me to root for the main characters to continue this read.
rose ✨
Feb 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
”i held her while she cried, and thought about what kind of person i’d be if i sent her off to die alone.”

i requested daughters of a dead empire on a whim and i’m so glad i did. this was a brutal twist on the usual “what if anastasia survived?” tale, pairing the princess with a young communist girl in the days following the murder of tsar nicholas and the rest of the royal family.

alone and hunted by the bolsheviks, anna offers evgenia a diamond to take her south to safety. evgenia, whose bro
Stephanie Cooke
Sep 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves-2021
An incredible, captivating, and compelling debut.

I absolutely DEVOURED this book and couldn’t put it down. I have been fascinated and obsessed with the Romanov’s for most of my life and this historical fiction is a perfect intersection of so many of my interests. How could you not be enthralled by the idea of a long lost princess escaping a death sentence? This book does such a great job in imagining Anastasia’s life immediately after the death of her family and one man who will stop at nothing
Jan 08, 2022 rated it really liked it
First of all, thanks to Book Forward and NetGalley and the author for letting me read this ARC.

As a child, one of my favourite movies was the animated Anastasia movie. No other movie told the story of the Russian war and I was clueless about it until that very story. The story of Anastasia Romanov is beautifully told by Carolyn Tara O’Neill in daughters of a dead empire. I have laughed and cried and grieved with the characters Anna and Evgenia. The girls share an unlikely friendship; one is a g
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Carolyn Tara O’Neil grew up in a tiny New York City apartment filled with thousands of books. Every Friday she went to the public library for even more reading material. She now lives in a slightly smaller NYC apartment with slightly fewer books, and still goes to the library every week.

In between then and now, Carolyn has lived in France, Spain, and Japan, and has dedicated her career to the edu

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