I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Romanov by Nadine Brandes
Release date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genres: Historical fiction, young adult, fantasy
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.
I usually love Russian-inspired fantasy books. I studied the Russian revolution in university and always found the stories about Anastasia interesting. I really thought that I would like this book but sadly after the slogging through the first chapter, I knew that wouldn’t end of being the case.
The chapters felt incredibly long, and the pacing was uneven. The first chapter seemed like it was never going to end. The entire book lacked that special spark that normally keeps me turning the pages, dying to know what would happen next. The whole Romanov story offers an author so much to write about. Yet, this novel didn’t really go into detail about the revolution, their exile to Siberia, their assassination, etc. Unfortunately, the author decided to focus on a romance that was utterly unnecessary. I would have rather focused on the historical Anastasia than on some made-up love story that didn’t even take off in the end. Why do authors keep on doing this? You don’t need a romance in every book. Why force something that isn’t needed? Ugh! Since the author kept on trying to make the romance happen, the relationships within the Romanov family weren’t explored. Knowing more about the characters for me is essential when reading a story. I have said this many times before, but I will repeat again, I need to feel a connection with the characters in order to care about what happens to them. Even after reading the entire book, I really wasn’t invested in the story. It really just makes me sad.
One aspect of the book that intrigued me when I requested it on NetGalley was that it contained magic. Basically, Anastasia has a special magical book that could save her family from the Bolsheviks. It sounds pretty interesting in the synopsis but like most things in this book, the magic isn’t really explained. It’s mentioned a few times but essentially placed on the back burner by the romance. I still have so many questions about it. How does the magic work? Where did it come from?
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. The pacing, lack of explanations and poorly executed romance made it difficult to read and enjoy. I guess I should have stopped after the first few chapters, I just feel bad doing that when it’s a book I have been given to review. Have you read Romanov? If so, what were your thoughts on it?
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.