Synopsis: In this retelling of the Romanov family’s exile, Nastya is sent from the relative comfort of Tobolsk to a house in Ekaterinburg, where she and her family are under constant guard. However, she befriends a young guard named Zash and there just might be something more between them, but then the fateful night of the Romanov family’s execution has Zash pointing a gun at Nastya.
I was initially interested in this book because I am a huge fan of the animated movie Anastasia, as well as the Broadway play based off of it. I knew a general history of what happened to the Romanovs, but I’d never really looked into much. This book definitely had me reading a lot of Wikipedia pages afterwards.
I definitely thought the beginning of this book was boring. I didn’t know if I was going to finish it because I was so bored, but after I hit a certain point, I couldn’t stop reading! I would have liked a little bit of context because the first half of this book is very much based on real history, so I was a little confused, but I think it explained the situation well enough. The second half is speculative and it was so intense! It was nonstop action and a fair amount of magic.
The magic in this book wasn’t explained super well, but it served it’s purpose. Spellmasters need spell ink to be able to perform magic, so that definitely limited it’s use in the first part of the book. I do wish that the magic was fleshed out a little bit more and incorporated into the story more.
I think the relationship between Nastya and Zash was really interesting because there were just so many different stages of emotions between them. Their position was always precarious, so it was interesting to see them navigate that and still gain comfort from the other even though they were guard and captive.
My favorite thing about this book is the different themes that it touched on: the importance of family, doing the right thing, forgiveness, and freedom. The majority of Nastya’s actions are influenced by what would be best for her family. The first half of the book really showed how close she was with her siblings and parents. Even in exile and captivity, they could find happiness and comfort in each other.
When Nastya is faced with the person that caused her and her family endless suffering, she is faced with a choice: revenge or forgiveness. The book grapples with the struggle between doing what would feel good and give a bad person what they deserved, and doing what was right, even if it is much harder. I thought the scene were this was discussed was just so powerful, and I think I will think about it for a long time to come.
This book just made me really emotional! All the characters’ struggles, as well as the real life atrocities that took place combined to make me a little bit of a mess afterwards. This book definitely had it’s issues, but I really enjoyed it and it left me thinking about so many things.