Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Published by Thomas Nelson

Release date: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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


Anastasia Romanov has a mission. She must smuggle a spell into her suitcase on her way to Siberia. The leader of the Bolshevik army is hunting the Romanovs, and Anastasia has two options to save her family: release the spell or get Zash, the handsome and unusual Bolshevik, to help them.

Anatasia is frightened of magic, but even more frightened that she is beginning to like Zash. She thinks the feeling might be mutual. That is, until she’s on one side of the firing squad and he’s on the other.

Romanov is a story of love and a story of loss, a journey through a terrible and frightening time, full of hope and despair, anticipation and fear. The history of the Romanov family is fascinating, and this retelling of the story is fast-paced and magical.


Fairy tale retellings are common in young adult fiction. However, well-done and appealing retellings of historical events are much rarer. Nadine Brandes uses plentiful imagination, wonderful pacing, a touch of suspense, loveable characters, and well-spun atmosphere to make the story of the Romanovs come alive in a fresh, new way.

Romanov is a historical fantasy. It has magical elements, but it is set in a historical time period and represents customs and events from that time. It is not factually going to represent the Russian Revolution, and the world is more familiar and real than the new worlds from other fantasies.

The characters in Romanov are layered and complex. The bad aren’t always fully bad, and the good aren’t fully good. Anastasia has decisions that will shape her future and the future of her family and nation on her shoulders. Zash often seems torn between a desire to help and a desire to stay loyal to the Bolshevik army. The members of the Romanov family, although they don’t always get along perfectly, care about each other and support each other.

I don’t usually comment on the structure of a book. However, Nadine Brandes masterfully builds her story with realistic dialogue, well-placed description, a sense of time and place, and sentences and paragraphs that build on each other well. It is clear that the author has much talent for writing and storytelling.

I liked Romanov very much.  It was a well-built and touching story, with complex characters and a fresh and magical plot. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

If You Like

 If you liked books such as Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, or Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, you will probably enjoy Romanov.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read any of Nadine Brandes’s books? Are you excited to read Romanov? Have you read many historical fantasies?

27 thoughts on “Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

  1. OOOH yeah I’m so excited for this book!!! I have an e-ARC of it, but I’m planning on waiting until it’s a little closer to release to read it. I can’t wait!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s wonderful! I was so excited to get it and read it. It definitely lived up to my expectations! Also, the cover is amazing. I’m not sure if I like the cover for Fawkes or this one better. Have you read Fawkes?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. gahhhh you’re so lucky you got to read it! A bunch of friends and I got rejected when we asked to review it. XD I’m so glad you got to read it, though! Looks like you enjoyed it, which makes me even more excited for it to release. 🙂


  3. Ahh, this is such a great review! I’ll have to check this book out, I’ve always loved historical fiction and I remember reading a book about the Romanov family a long time ago. I also love when history is turned fantasy in a way- another book like that is the Lady Janies series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It was a really good book.
      I completely agree. Sometimes high fantasy with a whole new world to get used to is too much for me, which is why I like historical fantasy with the magical feel but a slightly more familiar world!
      I haven’t read the Lady Jane series yet, but keep hearing about it and have it on my TBR! Is it about the girl who was queen of England for nine days?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome review, Grace! This sounds like such a great book 💜 I’m glad you enjoyed it!
    (And I loved that segment at the end called ‘If You Liked’ – it’s so helpful when looking for new books to read! 😄)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This time period is already interesting, so that fun that it got an infusion of magic. I always wonder why authors don’t take boring historical events and spice them up with some fantasy or tall tales. *ideas swirling in my head*


  6. THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. I’m so glad I found your blog so that I can add this book to my wishlist! I’ve always been fascinated by the Anastasia myth and I always enjoy the different takes on it, but I’ve never seen a fiction book about it before – and with magic elements too!

    Fantastic review; thank you for your thoughts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you’re excited to read it! The Anastasia myth and the whole Russian Revolution are fascinating, and the fantasy elements add even more interest to the story. Thank you so much, Becky!

      Liked by 1 person

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