• Romanov – Nadine Brandes

    — DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Many thanks for this opportunity! —

    9780785217244

    Look at this pretty cover! I knew I had to read this book as soon as I heard about it – so I’m very grateful to Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing me with an advance copy. I’ve been loving Russian-inspired fantasy recently, and as I finished a very dissapointing book on the lead up to the Russian revolution (The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones) just a few days ago, I was doubly excited to refresh my memory of why I love these kinds of stories. Anyway, let’s get on to the review itself.

    STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶

    PUBLICATION DATE: 07/05/2019

    SUMMARY: Anastasia Romanov is a mischieavous, sassy, and smart teenager in the early twentieth century. However, as she was born royalty, she and the rest of her family are suffering under the revolution and the ensuing Boshevik regime. Brought to exile in Ekaterinburg, the story follows the last month of the old czar’s family, their captivity, and the relationships with their oppressors and guards. However, in this retelling of the Russian revolution, there is magic. Once openly practiced and available, it has now been outlawed, although Anastasia still protects a magical artefact that might save them all…

    OPINIONS: I loved this book more than I probably should. I think I read it within a day or so, craving it whenever I was at work or busy – it really should have been longer and told more of the story. I think it’s intended as a standalone, but I would love a sequel.

    The characters are really at the centre of what got me so hooked on this book – all the main/important characters are well fleshed-out, and relatable, although some of the minor characters/family members never become quite real. Anastasia, Zash, and Alexei are amazingly complex characters, who try to do their best within their circumstances, which is not always the objectively right thing – I love that Nadine Brandes dares to let them have flaws, and make mistakes. It is a story that makes sense in itself, and while greatness is thrust upon those characters, it is done in a natural way, and doesn’t seem to be as forced as the ‘chosen one’ trope tends to be.

    Magic in the universe of Romanov is fascinating. Reminiscent more of rituals than of the Harry Potter brand magic that we are all intimately familiar with, spells are based on so-called Spell Ink. This is a crucial ingredient to any and all magic, and it’s something that the characters struggle to gain access to. I like the idea of magic as craft, dependent on more than just immediate want – which is also an idea that is central to my own WIP, which will hopefully be finished at some point. Magic is a struggle, in a way, and an obstacle the characters need to overcome in order to be able to profit from it, a concept that does seem pretty unique in currenty fantasy.

    I can’t wait for this to be published next spring so I can see what other people have thought of this. Having reviewed Fawkes by the same author earlier this year, I have to say that while her earlier historical novel was good, Romanov is a thousand times better. I’m excited to read more of her work as her career continues, as I feel her craft is progressing by leaps and bounds. For now, preorder Romanov anywhere books are sold, and add it to your Goodreads shelf!

     

  • Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

    — DISCLAIMER: I received a eARC of this novel via NetGalley – thank you to both Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for the opportunity! All opinions expressed in this review are my own. —

    Wow, I just realized exactly how long it’s been since my last post! Life has been insane on my end, and time has simply flown by. Luckily, I’m on holiday for a week now, and I hope that I can manage to prepare a few posts to ensure that I’ll get around to posting more regularly again! But now, have a review of the wonderful Empress of All Seasons!

    As the eARC I received did not have a cover yet, I haven’t been able to take a picture that does the book justice, but I hope that I can remedy that once my finished copy arrives (I liked this so much I immediately had to preorder it!) – for now, have the cover image from the publisher’s website.

    https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/assets/OrionPublishingGroup/img/book/609/isbn9781473226609.jpg

    STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶

    PUBLICATION DATE: 08/11/2018

    SUMMARY: Mari, a teenage girl who grew up in a village of women with supernatural powers, a society despised by the culture they are part of, is sent to compete to become Empress and steal the Emperor’s fortune. However, she accidentally falls in love with  the future Emperor, not knowing who he is, making her mission much more complicated. Things are not what they seem, and the story is full of intrigue, vengeance, and conflicting interests.

    OPINIONS: Based on Japanese mythology, and it’s historical feudal system, this is a fascinating tale of tolerance and the lack thereof. The main characters are all wonderfully multi-dimensional and grow throughout the story, which is like catnip for me. It is rare that charaters have such a natural growth process over the course of a story, and I think that this is a large part of why I loved this book so much.

    While the main story is about tolerance and the future of the whole Empire and it’s society, and can in parts be seen as an allegory for the flaws of our current society, the side plot of the competition for the future Emperor’s hand reads like a fairy tale. This mix is what makes this book stand out from the many great books published this year, and lets it tell its story in a unique way. The ending is unexpected, not the traditional happy end too many stories feature, but amazing and empowering.

    Thank you, Emiko Jean, for giving us this wonderful story, and readers, go and get yourself a copy!