by Nadine Brandes


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From the author of Fawkes comes a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov.

“I am obsessed with this book! A magical twist on history that will have Anastasia fans wishing for more.” —Evelyn Skye

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

“I loved every detail Brandes wrote. If you love magic and Imperial Russia, you want Romanov on your shelf!” —Evelyn Skye

Romanov will cast a spell on readers and immerse them in a history anyone would long to be a part of.” —Sasha Alsberg

“If you think you know the story behind Anastasia Romanov, think again! The perfect blend of history and fantasy, Romanov takes a deeper look at the days leading up to the family’s tragedy, while also exploring the possibilities behind the mysteries that have long intrigued history buffs everywhere. Brandes weaves a brilliant and intricate saga of love, loss, and the power of forgiveness. Prepare to have your breath stolen by this gorgeous novel of brilliant prose and epic enchantment.” —Sara Ella

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785217244
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 8,832
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nadine Brandes once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the author of Fawkes, Romanov, and the award-winning 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 son are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom. Visit Nadine online at; Instagram: NadineBrandes; YouTube: Nadine Brandes; Twitter: @NadineBrandes; Facebook: NadineBrandesAuthor.

Read an Excerpt


April 25, 1918 Tobolsk, Russia

I watched my diaries burn.

Pages curled in on themselves, like spider legs accepting death. My past — my stories — turned to ash and tendrils of smoke. But I would not weep for them. The Bolsheviks could take far more precious things from me. I would not give them my tears.

I shoved another diary into the white-tiled stove that filled the corner of the bedroom I shared with my three older sisters here in Tobolsk. Here in exile. A photo slipped free from between two pages, as if putting forth a last attempt to escape its fate. I picked up the black-and-white portrait.

Tired, hooded eyes, a long, dark beard, and his hair parted meticulously down the middle: Grigori Rasputin. Our friend. Our spell master. He healed Alexei, he counseled Mamma, and he had been about to teach me spell mastery ... until they shot him. The Bolsheviks shot him as easily as they threw back a shot of vodka at the end of the day. Or the beginning of the day, depending on how many deaths weighed down their hands.

Now they were coming for us.

I threw Rasputin's photo into the fire. That photo, more than any other, could get me in the most trouble if the approaching Bolsheviks conducted a search. Evidence of our connection with the spell master would work against us. And they were searching for any reason to condemn Papa, no matter that he'd abdicated the Russian throne.

I snatched my book on spell mastery from my bedside table and shoved it on the bottom of our small bookshelf with the other volumes. It was a German translation — one the Russian guards likely couldn't read — and I'd rebound it with the cover from a German book of folktales. Still, they'd find it if they tried hard enough.

The clip, clip, clip of Papa's polished boots sounded down the hallway. They passed my door, stopped, and then returned. The door opened and his calm beard-and-mustached face turned toward me. "Nastya. They're here."

I shut the stove door and stood. Papa held himself straight and regal, despite his short stature. We walked down the chilled corridor together. In silence. Ex-tsar and ex-princess. We passed Alexei's room and I glanced in. My thirteen-year-old brother lay thin and haggard on his bed, his skin yellow and eyes like dark bulbs in his skeletal face. He didn't look at us as we passed by.

I balled my fingers into fists. I would heal him. No matter the Bolsheviks' quest to murder all spell masters or if they searched us or if they sent us back to St. Petersburg. I would study spell mastery and find a cure for Alexei.

Noise came from the entryway and I focused forward. The strain of the Bolsheviks' arrival was overshadowed by the anxiety of not knowing why they were coming.

We joined our guards — the ones who had been with us the past year and become our friends — in the entryway. The weathered rug cushioned our weight once we stopped.

A new man stood in the doorway, filling it like a giant shadow. He was tall with pale skin, black eyes, and an angular face beneath a mass of curly dark hair. I'd seen his type before, at the few lavish balls and parties Mamma had allowed us to attend. The type who stood on a pedestal in his mind. Usually those types were the scheming grand dukes or political leaders more interested in social climbing and control than dancing or conversation.

For some reason they never seemed to like me.

The warped windows into the courtyard distorted — but did not conceal — the lines of Red Guards standing at attention and waiting. Our chickens pecked at their valenki boots, tearing off bits of grey felt. The Bolsheviks didn't even blink. There had to be over a hundred of them! Why so many?

Papa strode toward the dark-eyed man and extended a hand of greeting. "Welcome to Tobolsk, Commandant."

The commandant did not shake it but instead announced in a loud voice, "I am Yakov Yurovsky. By order of Lenin's Central Committee, the Romanov family is to be relocated."

Relocated? Could it be that they were going to send us home? We'd been holed up in this cramped house for a year, unable to enter town or breathe more than a few hours of fresh air every day. I longed to be free in the forests again, picking opyata mushrooms, growing a life ... dabbling in spells.

I cupped the small f lare of hope in my palms and waited for more explanation.

Papa lowered his unshaken hand and asked calmly, "Where?"

"That is to be decided." Yurovsky's f lat monotone caused the spark of hope simmering against my skin to wither.

"When?" Papa asked.


Mamma sat at the edge of the room wrapped in thick blankets and a steely expression despite her own illness. She straightened in her chair. "But our son is too ill to travel."

"I am ordered to remove the former tsar without delay." Yurovsky clipped his heels, sending mud from his boots to the entry rug. "The rest of the family is not my concern."

I gasped and it echoed across the room until it turned Yurovsky's gaze toward me. He would take Papa without us? Our only solace during this time of exile had been our union. Our strength as a family. The bonds of our Romanov blood keeping us from despair.

Please. Please no.

Papa lifted his chin and the guards in the room who had come to respect him all seemed to stand taller. He resembled a tsar again. "I will not be separated from my family."

"Then you will be taken by force." Yurovsky did not need to gesture to the Bolsheviks outside. We were outnumbered. "You may bring traveling companions, but we will leave by morning. The rest of your family will follow once the boy is ... well." He almost said dead. That word hung heavier in the room than any other.

Leave. Tomorrow. By force.

Yurovsky's words were final. My control slipped through my fingers, threatening to break out in the form of a scream. They couldn't separate us! Why? Why must they take Papa away so urgently? And without telling us where?

Yurovsky turned on his heel and addressed three Bolshevik soldiers. "Oversee the packing."

There was no search. I'd burned my diaries for nothing. Instead they were tearing us apart. With Alexei ill and Mamma's health declining ... this might be the last time we were all together.

Perhaps Papa sensed my rising outrage because he took my arm and steered me away. "Come, Nastya."

"They cannot separate us," I hissed as we left the Bolsheviks behind. "You cannot let them!"

"This is not the time to resist."

"But where? Where are they sending you?"

"Probably to Moscow for trial."

My throat burned hotter than the scorched pages of my diaries. "Curse those Bolsheviks. I ought to poke holes in the soles of all their boots!"

A smile entered Papa's voice, hidden by his mustache. "That is why you must stay, Nastya. To cheer everyone up with your impish mischief."

I ground to a halt. "I am to stay?" He'd made up his mind already?

"There are things I need you to do here —"

"Nikolai ..." Mamma caught up to us, her composure held together by only the clasp of her brittle fingers on her worn handkerchief. Papa went to her.

I stomped away from them, from the pain, leaving him to make the necessary arrangements and decisions he needed to focus on. None of which involved stitching up the gash in my heart.

But I wasn't the only one with a gaping wound inside. We would all have to carry this pain.

I found myself entering Alexei's room and plopping by his bedside as he coughed — a weak, wheezing thing. But that was much better than the violent hacking last week that had caused a hemorrhage and damaged his kidneys.

Alexei had saluted death before. His hemophilia never promised him a long life. But when Rasputin had been alive, he could heal Alexei with a single word, even from a different city through the telephone line.

Now, there was nothing to save Alexei except his own will to live.

That would change if I could learn more about spell mastery. I itched to pick up that German spell book and read it right under the Bolsheviks' noses.

Alexei's coughing subsided and he blinked his hollow eyes toward me. "You look gloomy."

I smiled, relieved by the one family member who understood that banter could dispel even the darkest mood. "It's because you're being so lazy, staying here in bed. I've had to do all your chores."

"Lucky. Being lazy is incredibly boring." He winked, but it seemed tired. "You've likely killed my poor chickens by now."

"They had a hearty breakfast of boot felt."

"Poor creatures. To be under your care is a frightening thing." His gaze shifted to the door and he nodded his chin toward it. "What's happening out there? I know the Bolsheviks arrived, but no one has told me anything."

Every time Alexei was sick, the family avoided negative conversation around him. I understood the concept — that despair could affect his will to live or might send him into a gloom that slowed his healing.

But Alexei and I had a mutual understanding never to keep things from one another. We understood that being left in the dark was far more despairing than dealing with the weight of dark news. "They're taking Papa away."

Alexei, having spent time with soldiers on the front line when Papa was still tsar, took in the statement with a deep breath. It turned into a cough and I handed him the glass of water from his bedside.

"What ... what about me?" he finally managed. "I must go, too. I am the tsarevich."

"You're not well enough." I held back my wince.

Steel entered Alexei's features. His body. His will. "Not yet. But I will be."

And that was why he would have made a brilliant tsar. "They are likely sending him to trial in Moscow. Papa will leave tomorrow morning and we will follow once you are well." I fixed him with a stern gaze. "The Bolshevik commandant thinks you'll die. Survive so you can spit in his face."

Papa's voice came from the corridor. I shoved myself to my feet and hurried out, but not before I caught Alexei's whisper. "Come back and tell me everything."

Papa and Maria — my partner in mischief and only two years older — spoke quietly in the hall. Maria paled beneath her long brown hair, but she gave a brave nod and then headed toward our room.

I hurried to take her place at Papa's side. "What is the decision?"

"Your mamma will join me," Papa finally said. "Maria will come as her companion."

Not me.

He must have been able to see the resignation on my face because he cupped my cheek with his hand and it sparked the fuse that led to the burn of tears. "Tatiana will manage the household in my absence. You have your own role to play."

So it was decided. As simple as that. Like a surgeon slicing a heart in two. My heart pumped at a broken rhythm. Everything was happening too fast. I was about to be left behind. There were too many unknowns.

I grabbed his sleeve. "Is there no other way?" My plea might as well have been a shout to the corridor of guards. But I had no reason to hide my love for my family.

Papa sounded equally as desperate in his reply. "I cannot see one, shvibzik." He guided me up the hallway, away from the guards. "When Alexei is well enough to travel, you and your sisters will join us."

I opened my mouth to protest — how I loved protesting — but Papa added a seemingly unrelated question. "When was the last time you read Pushkin's novels?"

My jaw snapped shut like the bite of a nutcracker. Pushkin. Pushkin. A brief moment passed as though he wanted to be sure I understood the undertones of his question. So much of my family's conversation these days consisted of hidden messages and code words.

Pushkin meant secrets.

The burn of my tears was snuffed. I couldn't hold back the sly grin that crawled onto my face. "I was planning on reading one today." As soon as he left, I would slip to the library and find whatever secret he'd hidden there for me.

Papa glanced over his shoulder. No guards in sight. We stopped. "Nastya, you know the most about spells. I did not trust Rasputin as Mamma did, but I know he instructed you and he likely did it well." Code words were abandoned.

"He only ever had time to show me the basics." And hardly even that.

"That is still more than your siblings. This is why you must guard the family Matryoshka doll and bring it with you when you join us."

My throat cinched. Thirteen years ago, I'd watched Mamma and him open a layer of that painted doll and release the now-forbidden spell that brought us Alexei. I'd not seen the doll since. "Dochkin made that doll." Vasily Dochkin, Russia's most respected and skilled spell master.

"Da. Do not let the Bolsheviks take it."

My mind raced through questions and answers. 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.

"The Bolsheviks would use the doll to find Dochkin and kill him," I surmised. "I must protect him." The revolutionaries were fools. They knew nothing about spell masters. Spells from the old artists of Russia were now forbidden. I liked forbidden things.

"That is not why I am entrusting it to you." Papa glanced over his shoulder. "This doll, Nastya. It may be our family's only salvation."

A familiar thrill twirled in my chest. Papa was depending on me and not my eldest sisters Olga or Tatiana because he knew I could do it. I was sneaky — they were too honest. "I will not fail you, Papa."

He kissed me on the forehead. "You never do. Now go help Maria pack."

I spun on my heel and strode down the hallway of the Tobolsk governor's house as though I was, once again, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna back in the Alexander Palace.

I could pretend away Papa's abdication.

I could pretend away our exile.

And now that Papa gave me a mission, I could — for the moment — pretend away the fear of never seeing him, Mamma, or Maria again.

I entered the bedroom that my sisters and I shared. Maria stood staring at her brown valise, looking far too vulnerable and unsure for her stocky eighteen-year-old frame.

I sighed and crossed the room. "You had to volunteer." I pulled books from our shelf and stuffed them into Maria's valise, making sure she had the essentials — Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov. I tried to set my envy aside — I wished I were going. But then who would Alexei have?

Maria snapped out of her helplessness, as I knew she would if I forced literature on her. She took the books out and replaced them with a beaded gown. "I could not let Mamma face Papa's trial alone."

I tried to slip in two of the discarded volumes. How did she expect to dispel the boredom on the train ride without books? "You'll not need an evening gown at a court trial, Maria." Nor, likely, ever again. Why she'd brought the gown to Tobolsk in the first place made sense only to Maria's flirtatious mind.

If we were lucky, the trial would allow us — the last Romanov family — to disappear into a quaint Russian village and live out the rest of our lives as the common people did.

"It is Moscow," Maria stressed. "I would rather have a flattering gown on hand than old dusty books." She dumped the volumes out and I managed to catch all but Dostoevsky, which slammed to the ground, spine up. My soul cracked right along with the crisp pages.

I picked it up. "Did you know Dostoevsky was exiled to Tobolsk for a time?" I held out the book. "It would be a bad omen to leave him behind."

"Then you can bring the book when you join us."

I screwed up my face, not caring that pouting was far beneath the maturity I should be showing as a sixteen-year-old princess. Well, ex-princess. "Whenever that might be."

"We will see each other again, shvibzik."

Her use of my pet name — imp in Russian — did nothing to ease my building dread. "You must write to me."

"If they will let me." Maria's hands stilled. She leaned over the valise as though curling in pain.

"You need only smile at them and they'll let you do whatever you wish." I shoved parchment into the bottom of the valise, filling the role of the strong one. That was how we sisters worked. When one was weak, another picked up the strength. "You and Papa will befriend these Bolsheviks as you have the soldiers here in Tobolsk. Papa may have abdicated the throne, but we are still royalty. We are Romanovs. The bond of our hearts —"

"— spans miles, memory, and time," Maria finished.


Excerpted from "Romanov"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Nadine Brandes.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Romanov 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
wendm_ccbh 13 days ago
1917, Imperial Russia . The Romanov family are exiled and placed in a cramped house in Tobolsk. The Bolsheviks, a group of revolutionaries, have forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate the Russian monarchy. Based off historical events, the story of the Romanovs is equally wondrous and tragic. Brandes did an excellent job incorporating some true facts, especially regarding the final days of the Romanovs. We have Nastya, our heroine. She's fierce and brave with a mischievous nature. Another key character was Alexei, he fought through his illness and never gave up. I loved the relationship between Nastya and Alexei. Through Brandes writing readers are able to see how much these two characters truly loved each other. Then there's Zash. Nastya and Zash's romance had potential but it needed more depth and was very much tragic. Immediately, I was drawn in by the cover and the title of this book. Once I read the blurb, I was sold! Unfortunately, not much happens in the first half of the book. Actually, it drags in the beginning and picks up a bit during the second half. One aspect in particular I really loved was how Brandes brought elements of magic and fantasy into this story such as the use of spell ink to wield magic. Though it takes a strange turn towards the end and I was left somewhat puzzled, I did enjoy the concept this novel presents. Brandes really made me want to learn about the history of the Russian Revolution and more on the last days of the Romanovs. Especially since I have always been fascinated with the story of the young princess, Anastasia and her mysterious disappearance/death. Overall, I was fascinated with the history fueling the plot but the story itself wasn't what I expected.
Bookishly_Nerdy 2 days ago
This book blew me away. I don't have words for this. No, that's a lie. I do have words. I have long had a love affair with the somewhat macabre. The mystery surrounding the Romanov family has been a fascination of mine since I was young. Right around the same time the 20th Century Fox film "Anastasia" came out. But I went on to look things up. (And it's a good thing I did. Love the movie but it was full of factual inaccuracies.) The story broke my heart and fired up my inner Nancy Drew. I loved everything I could get my hands on. And now with the new musical out, it seems people are getting interested in their story again. And this story is something they definitely need to pick up. "Romanov" by Nadine Brandes is amazing. It took actual factual evidence about what happened to the last tsar of Russia and twisted it slightly to bring the reader to an amazing world of intrigue, secrets and slight romance. Anastasia is the hero she should have been and Alexei is an amazing helper. Zash is a newcomer that plenty of people hoped had been real. Most of the cast in the book were real and alive during the Russian revolution and that in and of itself is amazing to me. Nadine Brandes did her research and it paid off. I love the whole book and have already read it twice. The look into the Romanov family is in-depth and so interesting. The little facts like how Alexei had hemophilia and Maria was the one everyone had their eyes on. The different family interactions and the way the officers viewed the Romanov family were so genuine and well-documented, it was so interesting to read. In the end, I recommend absolutely everyone picks this up. Whether you like the Romanov family or not.
RockandMinerals4Him 2 days ago
Me, at midnight on Release Day: “hmmm why don’t I start Romanov?” Also me: *finishes Romanov at 3am* This was a good book!!! I personally liked this a lot more than Nadine’s other book, Fawkes, and I enjoyed that one a lot! Like I mentioned, I saw that it was release day on Instagram (I’m SO out of the loop at college, y’all. SO OUT OF THE LOOP) and decided to start it . . . and finish it, all in one swoop. Romanov is a magical retelling of the story of Anastasia Romanov, as well as the story of the rest of the Romanov family. There is a conspiracy theory that Anastasia Romanov and her brother, Alexis, did not die with the rest of their family, since they were found buried in a separate grave. Although this was disproved, Nadine went down the rabbit-hole of . . . what if? and what if magic was happened? One of the parts about Romanov that stood out the most to me was the characters! I have such a GARBAGE memory that books have to be super specific with their characters for me to remember them, and this one did it! Nastya (Anastasia), the protagonist and heroine of this book, was smart, feisty, loving, and thoughtful. Zash was protective, sweet, and conflicted. Alexei was portrayed so well: his sass, his illness, and how absolutely sweet he was. The Romanov father!!! he was so WISE and so loving and so sweet and I LOVE HIM!!! The rest of the family was also portrayed so well, as well as really, all of the other characters! They were given a depth that really brought them to life and I loved getting to know each of them better. The history was also SO good: it was so beautifully written and well researched. Unlike Fawkes, there was a lot less description and a lot more plot, which makes me like it a lot more! I’m not one for huge descriptions: I just want the story already!! In that regard, this book was wondERful. (also it literally had a puppy so like. I’m sold). The pacing was also awesome: it didn’t feel like anything moved too fast or too slow (also it’s also due to the length of the book: it’s way shorter than Fawkes which made it a lot more enjoyable for me). The romance felt a little bit rushed, but it still made sense. All in all, Romanov was one of my favorite reads of 2019! The characters were well written, the plot moved well, and while the setting wasn’t particularly well set, setting isn’t my cup of tea anyways! Things Liked- Nastya was so beautifully written! I loved her character and what she believed in, and her heart! Father Romanov! I LOVED him: he was so wise and understanding Alexei was also great: he was bantery and strong and lived for himself (also greAT disability rep!) The rest of the characters: they were super well written and sweet! The villains were proper villains (well, except for those who weren’t. but still) and you grew to loathe them but also respect them and AAA it was goOD also there were puppies so like The plot moved at a great speed! It wasn’t too fast or too slow, and flowed easily The magic was SO well woven in!! The book was a good length: it was long enough that it felt like it was a Book™, but wasn’t hard to read in one sitting? Things Disliked- The romance was a /little/ bit too fast for my liking? This review first appeared on: Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a free digital copy of this
Amy Smith Carman 3 days ago
Title: Romanov Author: Nadine Brandes Pages: 352 Release Date: May 7, 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction with some fantasy (magic) Series or Stand Alone: stand alone Stars: 5 People of Color?: No (all Russian) LGBTQ?: No Bechdel Test: Yes Trigger Warning: There are a few very bloody scenes I received a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Brandes follows up Fawkes with another historical fantasy book. This one is set in Russia approximately a year prior to the order to execute the family. The majority of the book takes place in a single house, where the royal family is kept in isolation under house arrest. She managed to bring out the sorrows, difficulties, and bravery of the family, with most of the action taking place within a single location. She did an excellent job keeping the story interesting and to keep it moving despite the limited space. This book was heavy, but I couldn’t put it down! I learned so many interesting things about the Romanovs and the Russian revolution. Likes: I especially liked Nastya and her “impish” side. Similar to: Similar in style to Fawkes. If you enjoyed Fawkes, I would highly recommend this as well! Ages: Teenager and up. No adult content warning.
Cristine Paquette 4 days ago
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you NetGalley! Already a big Anastasia fan, I was sold by the title and description of this book! Add some magic to the traditional story and you have the perfect YA retelling! We all know the basic gist of the story, Anastasia is a long lost Romanov princess who survived her family's massacre when the Soviets took over Russia in the early 1900s. This story has a twist, because it takes place before the massacre of the Romanov family and Anastasia is tasked with a securing a magical item that could save her family from their historically morbid fate. Yes, this has the stereotypical YA fantasy enemy to lovers story. Yes, it has a strong, stubborn female lead who is motivated to carry out her epic journey by her deep love for her family. Yes, the main character has undiscovered magical powers that give history a magical twist. Yes, it hits all the YA bullet points on the head! and Yes, I liked it a lot!
sspea 4 days ago
I LOVED this book. As someone who tore through Helen Rappaports "The Romanov sisters" as well as "The last days of the Romanovs" I loved that Nadine Brandes held true to many elements of the Romanovs life in captivity. I generally gravitate towards fantastical book, and this book definitely had a wonderfully magical element to it, while telling this incredibly sad story. From the beautiful cover, to the writing style, to the story itself, this book is a home run. I am officially a Nadine Brandes fan.
OwlishReader 5 days ago
"The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time." I am a HUGE fan of the animated movie Anastasia, and I'm also very interested in this period of Russian history. When I read the description of this book it was like a dream come true. Anastasia retelling (check!), magical element (check!), a hint of a forbidden romance (check!), female protagonist with bad-ass magical powers (CHECK!). This had all the elements to be a perfect book for me, but it fell a little flat. I really enjoyed the first 60% of this book, during which Anastasia and her family were in exile. I can see that a lot of research went into this book and the intertwining of fact and fiction were well done. I was engrossed in the drama of the family's exile and thought that the touch of magic gave the plot a little something special. I also loved the family interactions and their relationships with one other. Once the plot began to deviate from the family's exile and focus more on the fiction and less on the fact, I started to lose interest. The problem, for me, was in the world building. The first 60% of the book is all about the family's exile in Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg. For this part of the book, world building is not very important because (if you are familiar with the history of the Romanov family) the reader is already familiar with the Romanov family and their exile and such. Once the plot becomes more fictitious the gaps in the world building are more apparent. I thought that the author could have better explained the magic system and why Anastasia could wield magic and none of the other members of the family could. I enjoyed the general plot, I just thought that the last 40%-ish of the book needed a bit of work. Overall, I would recommend this to fans of Anastasia or this period in Russian history. If you're just looking for a fantasy, I wouldn't go for this. The appeal of this book lays mainly in it's historical fiction aspects, not so much in the fantasy aspects.
Anonymous 6 days ago
{I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.} I think that the mystery and drama surrounding the Romanovs is one of those inspirations that has really captivated people's imaginations around the world. From the musical cartoon, to numerous other novels and short stories, as well as non-fiction, there is more than lifetime's worth of material it seems. This latest YA fictional re-imagining combines history with fantasy. The book opens with the Romanov family together in exile, awaiting a trial post-abdication of the throne to determine their fate. Anastasia, or Nastya as she is referred to here, is the narrator, striving to do all that she can for her family - from using the limited healing spells that Rasputin had taught her prior to his death, to raising spirits through pranks and plays. And naturally, this YA book includes a bit of forbidden romance between guards and princesses. It's an entertaining read, but because the story itself is is so familiar, the pacing moves a bit slowly until Brandes separates her storyline from the known facts. The Romanov family are all revered here - each family member's actions are so thoroughly good, that I must admit that at times this was more unbelievable than the magical spells and spell ink that is required. I admit, too, that I had hoped that this would have opened just a bit earlier to cover more about Rasputin. He is mentioned here, but doesn't have quite the same role that I think that I was expecting. Still, I never really disliked anything about this one - I just didn't love it as much as I had hoped to. I think that it's hard to make this story really feel fresh because it really has been told so many times. The magical angle, while interesting, wasn't laid out so that it always made sense... but, the author's obvious passion for her subject matter and research is evident here! I think that readers who aren't quite as familiar with the history will be even more engaged and ready to use this as a starting point for more learning!
courtofbingereading 7 days ago
***Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review*** Romanov tells the story of Anastasia Romanov and her family. The first half is meant to be more historically accurate while the second half depicts a fictionalized story of how Anastasia and her brother, Alexei, could have survived. This story was different than I expected. I thought the book would be focused on how Anastasia survived the execution while the rest of her family perished. But, this story instead focused on the Romanov family in captivity. Throughout the first half of the novel, Brandes shows how kind, compassionate, and self-less Nikolai Romanov was. His empathy was truly remarkable. Which is why his death, along with the rest of the family, is heartbreaking. You go into this story knowing how it will ultimately end for the family, but I still found myself hoping for a different outcome. Romanov is very well-written. The only reason I am giving it 3 stars rather than 4 is that I couldn’t fully connect with the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Nastya (Anastasia) and her family, but I wasn’t attached. If not for this I would give this book 4 stars. It’s evident that Brandes did her research and that she wanted to do the Romanov family justice with her story. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Romanov family. This book provides a nice history lesson while also throwing in some fantastical aspects such as magic. Overall, it’s an entertaining read that is definitely worth checking out.
therosereader 8 days ago
3,75 stars I love the movie Anastasia so much so imagine my excitement when I got approved for this ARC. I was really looking forward to reading this book and it didn't disappoint! I didn't know the story of the Romanov outside of the Fox movie so I was really interested in learning more, even though Romanov is a work of fiction. The thing I loved the most were the characters. From the very beginning I adored Nastya, she's clever and witty and strong but also so soft and her compassion is beautiful. I was also very fond of Alexei, such a sweet boy, and so strongwilled. I loved his relationship with Nastya so much. "The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time." I really liked the first half of the book when the Romanovs are imprisoned in Ekaterinburg by the Red Army. I loved seeing the relations between all the Romanov, how close they were to one another, how much they cared about, and for, one another. It was quite slow-paced but I never got bored once. I loved how Brandes talked about their exile, about the waiting, the fear, the loneliness, the hope, but also the hopelessness. I also liked the little touches of magic here and there. But then the magic started bothering me. It became too much at once, it felt like it came out of nowhere and it felt "easy". I knew this was a fantasy book but after the first half being so shy with magic I wasn't expecting such spells. I still enjoyed the end, I couldn't put down the book. I loved how Brandes talked about grief and about forgiveness. "sometimes comfort needed to sting more than the sorrow for it to break into the grief." Romanov is a really touching book, about hope, compassion and forgiveness. It has wonderful characters and beautiful relationships, both within the family and outside of it. And though the magic can feel a bit out of place it's still a greatly enjoyable book and now I want to know more about the Romanovs and about Russian history!
CynB 10 days ago
Romanov, by Nadine Brandes, is an intriguing retelling of the Romanov family confinement and execution and the Bolshevik assumption of power. In the interest of transparency, I confess to having a love-hate relationship with this particular episode of history. On one hand, I remember watching with my mother the movie “Anastasia,” mesmerized with the romance and pathos of the story. I confess to reading most of the novels which portray one sister (usually Anastasia) as the hero and her family as noble victims. On the other hand, my read of history is that the Romanovs were careless, weak, indulgent, ruthless rulers who allowed thousands, if not millions, of their people to die. They were hardly the kind, heroic victims who loved their people. All that being said, this is an engrossing novel, combining the common elements of the Anastasia “escape” story with magical power. Indeed, Brandes does create a heroine of worth, courage, and loyalty. Anastasia struggles to do right and use the power of magic to do good, despite anger and vengeance. In some ways I am reminded of Harry Potter and his use of power. Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
TS1 10 days ago
This was a good book. A simplistic statement but one I'm happy to make. I was nervous about reading this because I'm such a fan of the Disney movie and wasn't sure I would be ready to read another version. Thankfully, Ms. Brandes' writing skills easily pulled me into a new version. The plot kept me engaged and kept me turning the pages until I finally finished. There were lots of great quotes in here too. One of my favorites: "I finally realized why Papa always asked me to forgive. Because it takes more strength and courage to forgive than it does to enact revenge." Beautifully stated. I look forward to future books by Ms. Brandes. *I received a complimentary copy via NetGalley. My review was not required nor influenced.
HeatherMK 10 days ago
I was thrilled to be able to read an advanced copy of Romanov by Nadine Brandes. The moment I heard about it a magical retelling of Anastasia's story, I was hooked and pre-ordered a copy for myself. For the advanced reading, though I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This book is incredibly lovely. The first half of the book with Anastasia (Nastya) and her family coming together during hardship and finding warmth, humor, and love wherever they could, gave me strong Little Women vibes. I was really touched by the bond they shared. I actually hadn't realized just how much of this story would be focused on the true history of the Romanov family, and as historical novels aren't usually my favorite, I might not have picked up the book if I'd known...but I'm so glad I read it. The characters were richly developed and I felt so attached to each of them. Plus Nadine's writing was so gripping I couldn't put the book down. In fact, I binge-read this one faster than anything else I've picked up this year. This book definitely gave me ALL THE FEELS and surprised me time and again, even when I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was riveted by the magical element and the fact that it was connected to music, in a way that made me nostalgic for the old Anastasia movie where the music box was so important. Extra tidbits: Hogwarts House I'd put the main character in: A mix of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. I'd recommend it for fans of: Sky In The Deep, To Best The Boys, Diary of Anne Frank, and Little Women. Also, this book doesn’t delve into any romantic situations beyond kissing. While there is obviously violence and death, it's not described in a graphic manner, and there's no strong language, so in my opinion it would be fine for younger YA readers who aren’t ready for more mature YA content.
SkyeWright 10 days ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review. *** Romanov is a historical fiction/fantasy account that takes in the fall of the Romanov family up to the night of their execution. I say fantasy because in this version of the Romanov story magic is very much part of the world and plays a role throughout, but the historical aspects of the story seem to keep pretty true the extent of my knowledge. The story has a fairly slow pace, a good portion of it is spent on the house arrest. The story starts with Nastya, Anastasia, and her family being in Tobolsk and then the transfer to Ekaterinburg where her family would undergo trials and eventually their end. While under house arrest there though Nastya makes friends/acquaintances/frenemies with one of her Bolshevik guards, Zash. There’s is a complicated relationship that’s for sure. I adored the relationship of the Romanov family, especially the relationship between Nastya and her brother Alexei. Zash is an interesting character and complicated, the things he does have reasons but I’m sure everyone will have a different opinion on if those reasons were good enough. One really interesting thing, at the end of the book the author has a small section that breaks down fact from fiction. Helpful because Russian history isn’t my strong suit and I know only the barest bit about what happened to the Romanov family and why so certain things being confirmed as truth or fiction helped me feel more comfortable in what I did know.
thereadingchick 10 days ago
The story of Anastasia Romanov has been re-written several times, including as a Disney musical. Romanov by Nadine Brandes puts a different twist to the possible survival of our favorite Russian princess. Given the task of carrying a magical relic through their captivity by the Bolshevik’s, we see a different side of Anastasia (Nastya) Romanov. Through her eyes, we see the fear, despair, and love that Nastya feels for her family and the hope that this matrushka doll she carries has a spell that can help her overcome all odds. If Anastasia was anything like the Nastya on these pages, it was no wonder the world loved her. This Nastya was sassy, sweet, mischievous, and clever. A story that could’ve very easily been gray and dull was filled with an ebullience and light because of her character. Not to say that there wasn’t a lot of heartache in this tale because, of course, there was. However, her character embodied hope and determination and as the reader, I couldn’t help but buy into this alternate ending to the traumatic end to the Russian dynasty. If I had anything critical to say about this novel it would be that I wished there’d been a little bit more magic and fantasy elements to the story. At the same time I was glad that the author kept the details historically accurate. Yeah, I know those two things kind of contradict one another, but I felt it was almost in the fantasy genre, but fell just short. I wasn’t too disappointed because I did get a happy-ish ending for Anastasia which she most likely didn’t get in real life. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I received a free ARC of this novel through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
rach1187 11 days ago
I didn’t know what to expect when I started on this book. Growing up on Disney’s Anastasia, I’ve long been fascinated with the unfortunate young Grand Duchess’ story. The thought of her escaping and surviving her family’s fate was a wishful thought, and I guess that was what I was hoping to read about. Nadine Brandes, however, had other plans. Romanov puts a magical spin to Anastasia’s re-imagined story. With spell masters hunted by Bolsheviks keenly intent on bringing down the Russian monarchy, this book was an interesting one that mixes fact with fiction. Brandes did an excellent job balancing history and finding just the right parts of it that she could stretch to fit the story she wanted to tell. Research, of course, was key. Brandes did a lot of reading and digging to set a steady base for this story to stand on. This was most prominent in the first half of the story where details of the Romanov family’s lives were detailed and narrated. Some of the facts included in the story I already knew about from reading books and documentaries, but others were new to me. I didn’t know that Anastasia, or just Nastya to her family, was a mischievous girl. She loved pulling pranks on just about everyone and was even called shvibzik or imp in Russian. It was definitely a nice bonus learning more about the family and the way the author dropped the historical gems she found in her research brought them to life for me, made them feel more human than the history books could and would ever do. If you’re a history geek like me, you should definitely read Nadine’s author’s note at the end of the book. In it, she talks about what’s true and what parts of the story she played with to make this book. I loved Nastya and Alexei. Maria, too. Zash, meanwhile, grew on me as I continued reading. For me, their characters were the most formed and the most entertaining. They made me laugh and giggle with their shenanigans, made my heart ache for them as they slowly lost hope and, definitely, made me go “Tsk, don’t do that. Stop” a number of times. Nastya, however, has a special place in my heart. She was a bright and curious girl. She loves her family and would do anything for them. I felt for her. Having been betrayed by the person you were starting to fall in love with and watching your whole family and the most loyal of your staff murdered is enough to crush anyone. But Nastya, though weighed with pain and grief, had to do what she can to help herself and Alexei escape and survive. It was her determination, not the powerful spells, that made her beat the odds set against her in the end. I loved most of Nadine Brandes’ additions and changes as they lent Nastya’s story more color. However, there were still a few things that, while I didn’t outright hated, felt unnecessary to me. Zash was an interesting character by himself with his own motives and different background and personality that sets him apart from the Romanovs. However, his and Nastya’s romance felt forced. In all honesty, these two were more pushed together rather than having chosen each other on their own accord. In all honesty, I would have been happy enough with them being friends. Their relationship felt unnatural to me. Overall, Romanov was a wonderful re-imagining of history. Magical and intriguing, this story has family at its core. Fans of Nadine Brandes’ other YA historical fantasy Fawkes will definitely go heart eyes for this book. YA historical fiction lovers will find a lot to love
bmrawlins 12 days ago
A magical alternate ending to the mystery of Anastasia, or Nastya, as she is called in this story. Her fun, impish personality and desire to see her family saved kept me reading long into the night. I loved the way family, grace, and forgiveness were woven all throughout the story. The insights into the Romanov's plight was both educational and fascinating. Plenty of suspense, action, and a sprinkle of romance to satiate my heart. A truly fantastical tale that will leave you turning page after page to reach the end, and even then, hoping for more. While the reality of events is enough to break even the most stoic heart, this mystical version captured a beautiful "what if" version of the Romanov family. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
ShesGoingBookCrazy 12 days ago
Romanov is not an easy read. The contents do not make it a “feel good” type of book, no matter how hard it may try. If you are familiar at all with the story of the Romanov family of Russia, then you know that this story doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s heartbreaking. Even so, Romanov is definitely a book worth picking up. The story is told from the perspective of Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, also referred to by her nickname, “Nastya” throughout. Telling the story of her parents and four siblings, Alexei, Olga, Tatiana, and Maria, quickly reveals the strong and loving bond between the family. It’s evident that their likeability caused issues for the Bolsheviks holding them captive. The thing that I loved most about this book was that all of the main, vital elements were there. Furthermore, the author masterfully uses all of these elements in this historical story and infuses it with magic. While the magic itself was wildly under-developed, including it in the narrative felt natural, like it really happened. (Thanks, Disney, for forever making me believe that there were magical elements to Anastasia’s story.) Another great point about this book is that the author didn’t overly-criminalize anyone. Even the Bolsheviks who definitely did wrong, Anastasia offers a ground for neutrality in the end. Rasputin, although only minutely referenced, was not viewed in a negative light either. So more lore, if you will, surrounds his character as being evil. Maybe he was, but most likely, he wasn’t. Each person has a reason for the actions that they take. While some are not good, they may not have started out that way. A lot of good intentions easily run awry when people, politics, and passion without contemplation become involved. This is by no means an excuse for people’s wrongdoings. It’s a glimpse into how easily one’s intentions can quite literally, turn into a runaway train. "I finally realized why Papa always asked me to forgive. Because it takes more strength and courage to forgive than it does to enact revenge." The biggest theme the resounds in this book is forgiveness, and just how hard of a thing it is. With such a difficult topic, it is so easy to root for revenge, and desiring ill upon those who wronged the Romanov’s. Anastasia, however, overrules revenge, which is such a harder thing to do. Forgiveness is freedom. I know at this point that I’ve spoke this book a lot of praise, and believe me, it deserves it. Here comes the downfall of Romanov for me. There is very little world building. Even if this book is a historical fiction and the locations where it took place could be Googled, it’s not a safe assumption that everyone will even know who the Romanovs were! Anything based off of historical fact needs some prefacing, so any reader will know exactly who the book is about and where it takes place. Romanov is set in Tobolsk, Russia in 1918. For a large portion of the story, the family is being held in a house...but that’s basically all I know. I have no idea what the house itself was like, where it was set, and how the characters arrived from one place to another. It was incredibly disorienting to try and figure out where anyone actually was, and made it very difficult to immerse myself into the story. Overall, I still really liked this book, heart wrenching as it was. I believe it was well thought out, meaningful, and brought out something really special in the Romanov family’s tragic story.
FadedPages 13 days ago
5/5 stars "The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory and time." I have always been drawn to the story of Anastasia and the Romanov family, which is why it was so easy for me to fall in love with this retelling. It was pure heart with a sprinkle of magic! It was unlike any other Anastasia retelling I have read, because it felt more real and focused on her family life rather than Anastasia reclaiming her title and identity. Synopsis Anastasia, or Nastya, is currently living in exile with her family after her father Tsar Nikolai Romanov was forced to abdicate the throne. When her father is suddenly forced to separate from the family to face trial in another city, he asks Nastya to protect a magical family secret and keep it out of the hands of their captors the Bolsheviks. Setting Historical Russia and the house where the Romanovs were being kept was the main setting for this story. I absolutely loved the world building that brought you back in time, but with a hint of magic. The story felt so real at times that I forgot I was reading a fictional retelling of a true story. Characters The focus on the Romanovs as a family and siblings was everything I needed from this story and truly didn't expect. It tugged at my heartstrings hard! I loved how this retelling showed more of the loving, close-knit family life that Nastya had during this time. The overall message of forgiveness and kindness to those around you was so strong and beautiful within their family unit. It really made you care about Nastya and her family throughout the story and events. The guards and the relationships the family had with a few, including Avdeev, Ivan and Kash, showed this message as well. The story did such a good job at showing how conflicted the characters were between their morals and duty. I loved Nastya's character. She was such an intelligent and mischievous girl and her conversations with Alexei and Kash were my favorite parts. Pacing For me, this story was an easy, fast read. I truly loved it and could've read it in one sitting! Around halfway through the story, it switches gears and the reader goes into the retold adventurous, magical unknown part of the story. Overall I can't recommend this heart-felt story with strong family influences and a little romance enough! I truly loved it and I can see myself reading this magical story again. The icing on the cake was the afterword at the end of the story! The notes from the author that stated what was fact vs. fantasy honestly shocked me. A lot of the details I thought were made up to possibly fit the story were in fact true! It showed me how little I knew of the true story and caused me to immediately look up every biography/true fiction book mentioned! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you so much to the publisher, the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this amazingly written eARC! I absolutely loved this retelling and can't wait to read more from this author!
Jaguar_Hero1 13 days ago
With a dash of magic and a few "what if" questions, Romanov gives hope to an otherwise bleak outcome and succeeds in depicting a historically accurate portrayal of Anastasia during her family's captivity. If you enjoyed Fawkes by Nadine Brandes or are interested in the Romanov family, I would recommend reading this book.
Anonymous 13 days ago
When Romanov begins, the royal family of Russia is in exile. The tsar has abdicated his throne, and the family is getting ready to be moved from Tobolsk to a new, as yet unknown location - one where the soldiers guarding them will be Bolsheviks, who are not loyal to the Tsar like the family's previous soldiers. The family is moved one half at a time, and before the Tsar leaves Anastasia (whose point of view the story is told from), he leaves her only one goal, one mission - to protect at all costs an item containing the spells that could potentially be the family's only chance for salvation from those who would wish them dead. I have to admit, I kind of had mixed feelings about this book. I absolutely love historical fiction, and I'm very interested in stories that take place in Russia, especially when they involve magic and a little romance as well. There were some things I really liked, such as the obvious love between the siblings, the budding romance between Nastya and Zash, the places where reality hits about what would've happened to Bolshevik soldiers whose loyalties might switch to be with the Romanovs. However, I think the pacing in the first half especially was kind of slow compared to how quickly things progress following the family's execution, and also some things just didn't seem like they were as well fleshed-out as they could've been. Overall though this was a pretty good read!
Anonymous 13 days ago
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I don't intend on discussing any kind of spoilers in this review. Overall, I want to say this is more of a 3.5 star rating. I could not wait to read a story about Anastasia, so I was interested in the book the whole way through. There were some things I personally could have appreciated more of...for instance, there were several characters mentioned at the beginning of the story that simply weren't expanded on at all. One of Anastasia's sisters, for instance. Another thing that bothered me was that it felt like the first 3/4 of the book was a different story than the rest... I felt like the author's approach to retelling this historical event was interesting! I liked the idea of having magic in there, but I do think it could have used more depth...what kind of depth? I don't really know, but it felt like something was missing for me. What happened to this family is just so sad and so I appreciated that the author included some facts in the back of the book about which bits were real, and which were fiction. I do recommend this story for anyone interested in this bit of history!
marongm8 13 days ago
We always get asked about books on the Romanovs because they are very popular history/biography project for the high school students. The Parents always ask if there is new historical fiction released lately and this book is double the fun. Every chapter of this book build and build the story every step of the way. Learning about Nastya and her family's involvement with the Bolsheviks was intriguing and breathtaking to read and when she meets Nash and finds out his role in the whole war took a whole new turn that you could not help but to read on. We will definitely consider adding this title to our Historical Fiction section at our library and that is why we give this book 5 stars.
Lisa_Loves_Literature 13 days ago
Anastasia's story is one I never knew a lot about, but had always heard little things here and there and always have been interested in reading or learning more about. So when I heard about this book from the author of Fawkes, I was extremely interested in reading it. Let me tell you what, it did not disappoint! I was hooked from the moment I picked this one up, and like the other good historical retellings I've read in the past, it made me want to pick up nonfiction books and do research into the actual family and times that this involved. It is nice that the author put even a little helpful extra in the back with what were the true known facts of this story, and how she added or changed to fit her own telling of the story. There was a lot of emotion, seeing how the family was treated, yet how they seemed to treat those around them made a lot of what was done to them very uncalled for. And then, just when things started to seem kind of like they had an ally or two, horrible things happened, things that I had tears myself! Then there was Zash. You wanted to love him, but had to be upset with him because of how he seemed to not ever get past his preconceived notions. But then he did, and in the end, well, I won't spoil anything. But wow! So much at the end of this when it really evolved into the fantastical bit of the story. Of course there was magic interspersed throughout the story, but the final part was where it all really came into play. I loved the way the Russian nesting doll, otherwise known as a matryoshka doll was used in the story. It made me want to go open up the one my sister brought me back as a souvenir from her trip to Russia a few years ago just to check it out. I look forward to putting this book in my library at school as well, and sharing it with students as they study Russia and its history.
HollyLovesBooks4 13 days ago
For anyone who is a fan of historical fiction and is intrigued by the Romanov story, this is the book for you. This is a wonderful retelling of the events about the Romanov family and the era in which they lived. I would definitely recommend this. #Romanov #NetGalley