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.
This is my first Nadine Brandes novel and I’d seen it a lot on bookstagram so I thought I’d pick it up. I enjoyed reading this book and I found the plot interesting and I loved both the historical side and the spell casting side. This was a really interesting interpretation of the events that occurred!
In terms of characters, Anastasia is a strong willed protagonist who tried to protect her family and remain strong throughout her exile. Her relationship with her brother and father was portrayed really well and it keep me wanting to read more. Alexei’s character annoyed me because he did not resemble a thirteen year old boy. I understand that with the pressure of his royal status and his health condition, it was expected for him to be a strong character, however, he did not come across as a child at all, therefore it made the writing confusing at times.
I personally like that the author used Russian words throughout the book as it really hit home for me and added a sense of authenticity, however, I can also understand that sometimes it was too much and for people with little to no knowledge of Slavic languages, it may be confusing.
One thing that I really did not like was the romance. It seemed forced and both Anastasia and Zash did not click. I felt like the romance was unnecessary because the characters would have been better off as friends. That being said, I loved Maria’s romance with Ivan!
I would say that for the first 200 pages the book primarily focuses on portraying the Romanov’s hardships and their day to day lives in exile, however, as the book progresses, we encounter the magical side and a bit of a chase. The history of the Bolsheviks, The White Army and the Romanov’s was not described much, which I think was a bit of a let down, however the plot was exciting and I enjoyed the book overall.
3/5 stars ⭐️