I had heard so many good things about Romanov by Nadine Brandes on Bookstagram – I was a bit hesitant to start because the last Bookstagram recommendation greatly disappointed me (The Cruel Prince by Holly Black), but Romanov truly lived up to the hype!
Romanov is a historical fantasy based on the real-life Romanov family of Russia. Brandes’ story follows Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov as she is given a task to smuggle a magical matryoshka doll to her family as they are moved cities during their exile. But magic and spells are outlawed under the new Bolshevik regime and the leader of the Bolsheviks is determined to possess the matryoshka doll himself – he needs it to locate to best spell master in Russia who will be forced to join the Red Army or be killed. But Nastya’s papa told her the doll was key to the family’s survival – she can’t let the Bolsheviks take it from her.
As Nastya tries to save her family, she becomes acquainted with a handsome Bolshevik soldier, Zash. Zash seems different, but she can’t have feelings for the enemy – can she?
This story is of heartbreak, suffering, second chances, and healing. I really appreciated the religious themes woven throughout. Nastya and her family read the Bible and prayers are said often. When times are difficult, the Romanov family relies on Jesus. Forgiveness and compassion are two major themes within the pages.
I loved the relationship Nastya had with her father, sisters, and especially her younger brother Alexi. I also loved the presence of dogs, especially the spaniel Joy! The romance was a believable enemies to lovers (PG) and clean.
Note, there is violence, murder, and blood in the book, but nothing too terribly gory or graphic.
Overall, I give Romanov 4.5 stars! I did listen to the audiobook in spurts – if I were to read it all the way through in physical book form, I can see my rating possibly going up. But in the audiobook format I felt the first couple of chapters were a little long and dragging. But that quickly changed once Nastya, Maria, and Alexi are moved to join the rest of their family in exile!
I recommend this book for fans of historical retellings, strong family bonds, and magic.
Request Romanov at your local library OR order your own copy here!