Forgiveness After Loss | Romanov Book Review

Hello, dear readers,

It says a lot that I finished Romanov by Nadine Brandes over a month ago and it still keeps coming to mind as a book I should review. So, I figured I might as well accept my fate and share my thoughts with you all.

Romanov is a historical fantasy novel told from the perspective of Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov.

After her family’s rule is overthrown by the Bolsheviks, Anastasia doesn’t think her life can get much worse. Unfortunately, that illusion is dispelled when her family is suddenly confined in their summer-home-turned-prison, guarded day and night by uncaring Bolshevik soldiers. It’s up to Nastya to protect their family’s only hope– a slowly maturing spell hidden in a nesting doll. However, everything becomes more dangerous when Anastasia begins falling for Zash, a Bolshevik soldier. Especially since he might one day be ordered to execute her.


What I Liked

First off, this was such an emotionally gripping story. I understood and sympathized with Nastya the whole way through, and her joys and griefs were poignantly depicted. As the end crept nearer, I was on the edge of my scene with concern about how it would resolve.

And yes, I was desperately hoping my favorite characters would not be killed off.

Beyond this, Nadine Brandes managed to bring such an authentic feel to this tragic history, bringing to mind elements of both The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Obviously, this novel is very much fictionalized, but I was impressed with how Brandes captured the emotions of the imprisonment.

Along with this, the dynamic of the Romanov family brought so much light into the darker threads of the story. Though there are many bleak moments, the gentle yet strong father, caring sister, and exuberant brother in particular kept it from becoming too grim. Anastasia’s love for her family is something rarely seen in YA, and it was a touching, central chord in the story.

Side note: I think this book would be a perfect autumn read. It’s atmosphere completely matches the chillier months we’re heading into. But that’s just my two cents.

What I Disliked

While there so many things I really enjoyed about this book, there were a couple things I didn’t prefer. My main critique is on the pacing. The plot felt uneven, almost like it was cut into two, separate parts. The first half seemed like a slower historical drama, while the second took the direction of a more typical YA, historically inspired, fantasy adventure.

While both halves were good, it did feel… divided? The change from the more historically grounded side to the magical speculation was a little too abrupt for my taste.

I don’t want to delve into spoilers, but I also struggled at one point with the healing between Nastya and Zash after he does something that would personally take me a while to forgive. Particularly since some of the major explanations Zash gave came across as weak. Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I felt like certain conflicts between them were resolved far too quickly, and it would have been more realistic if there had been a few additional scenes of them working through it.

My Final Thoughts

With every review, I like to dig into what I saw as the deeper soul of the story. And goodness did I love this one’s.

This story is ultimately about forgiveness after we’ve experienced loss. It’s raw as it shows the strength and pain of that kind of forgiveness. But Brandes also paints how wounds close and healing emerges when we lay down our bitterness, anger, and hatred– when we forgive both others and ourselves. Though far from easy, it’s beautiful and worth it when we finally work through our pain.

The quiet strength that it takes to forgive and to display compassion towards our enemies truly shines in this book. I love the way Brandes wove in Christian themes without ever coming across as trite or preachy.


In closing, while Romanov definitely has its flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was surprised by its depth. If you like creative twists on the gaps in history, dashes of magic, romance, family, and forgiveness, I recommend you pick up Romanov.

4.25- 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What books have you read lately? Let me know in the comments!


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