Romanov - Let's Discuss the Book

(Image Courtesy -the lovely author Nadine Brandes herself )

! SPOILER ALERT ! The following post contains spoilers for whole book. So unless you’ve read it fully, DON’T PROCEED ! SPOILER ALERT !

-S P O I L E R S-

 Hello BnB Readalong fam *waves excitedly* WE FINISHED ROMANOV SO CONGRATULATIONS y'all! I had so much fun hosting this readalong  (psst, there'll be more in the future too *happy dance*), writing the posts and discussing the story with such awesome readers *heart eyes* You're awesome so do a little victory dance!

So being the listomaniac that I am, I made lists for this review! 


1) ALEXEI. I straight up loved this precious bean so much. Kind heart, sass, humorous, clever and also strong and badass in his own way! Alexei is unforgettable and a character to reckoned with! I really would love to know about his life after the book you know? How he and Dochkin are going to be joining up with the white Army and defeating the Bolsheviks. Anyway, BIG HUG FOR THE TSAREVICH <3

2) NASTYA - Our main character with her heart of gold and all the tricks up her sleeves. Nastya is such a wonderful protagonist and I loved all parts of her. She, like her brother is kind and nice but also so badass and powerful in a way that filled my heart.

“Why won't you die?"
"Because I have a story I was meant to live. And not even you can unwrite it.” 

3) THE FAMILY DYNAMICS - Aw the first half of the book had my heart aching for the Romanov family. Even in the hardships, they found solace in each other and really i loved all of them. I wish we'd seen more of the other sisters too - Olga and Tatiana. I also wish we'd seen more of the children's interactions with their mother too. But I LOVED the relationships Nastya had with her father, her brother and her sister maria. The family was portrayed in an achingly beautiful manner.

“No amount of age, pride, or maturity could stop me from loving my papa with the heart of a little girl.” 

4) TSAR NIKOLAI - I don't know how the real historical figure was but the character the author has created is just too wonderful for words and i absolutely loved him. when he died, I cried so bad!

5)THE MAGIC SYSTEMI think the magic system was brilliant. The idea of spell ink and later realizing how Dochkin's Matryoshka doll worked were some really interesting concepts.  But I also liked how the magic wasn't all-powerful. Like how at the end Dochkin's powerful spell heals our darling Alexei but his haemophilia is still there. Really loved how Brandes brought magic into history in an ingenious manner.

6) JOY THE DOG. I just love pets in bookas and I'm constantly scared for them and I pretty much cried when the family's other dogs were found dead. Also loved the author's note at the end that informed us that Joy was indeed real and survived it all. 

7) THE WRITING. I love Nadine Brandes' simple but elegant writing. The words just flowed so well and I pretty much read the book in one sitting. 

"I’d not mourn the lost good memories— I would apply them to my heart as a poultice every time it ached. That was what positive moments were for— to help heal the wounds of the future. As long as we chose to remember them."



1) NASTYA AND ZASH - Okay so I had mixed thoughts about the ship throughout but at the end of the day I'm glad Zash is there. I liked that the romance wasn't a major part and neither Nastya nor Zash were falling head over heels in love at first sight. I liked how despite her feelings for Zash growing, Nastya maintained a family first and kept at it strongly.

Do I think Nastya forgave Zash too quickly? Yes. But am I glad she did? Yes. Apparently I'm a potato who can't make up her mind *shrugs*


1) I felt the second half of the book was a bit rushed? A lot of things were happening and it honestly felt a bit choppy to me. The first half was my absolute fave and I wish the second half had been more longer and clearer

2) ZASH'S EXPLANATION. I mean there was this whole build-up with Zash saying he wasn't ready to talk about it just yet et cetra and when the explanation actually came I was like -

I mean I get what he's saying but after the buildup and the tension it fell flat for me.

3) YUROVSKY'S ENDING - Just nope. I know there's the moral value of forgiveness but there are some things that are just NOT forgiveable. Yurovsky of all the people DID NOT DESERVE to get the blank spell and a chance to start over. NO! I wanted justice ahhhh!

 But overall, really loved this dark retelling which is filled with a lot of sorrow but also there's hope peeking through it all and it's beautiful

-L E T    U S   D I S C U S S -

What are your overall thoughts about 'Romanov'? What are the things on which you agree/disagree with me ? 


  • Shatarupa Dhar

    I had fun participating in this readalong, it’s really interesting to read fellow bibliophile’s views on the book, especially the views as one goes on reading, chapter-wise, complete with spoilers!

    I agree with getting justice for Yurovsky. He should have been handed over to the White Army. Because getting killed with a single gunshot is also not justice.

    Yes, the magic part was done very subtly. And I also loved the author’s use of strong imagery.
    “Pages curled in on themselves, like spider legs accepting death.”
    I loved the word ‘shvibzik’ too much.

    About Zash’s explanation, I also felt that it was somehow a bit inadequate. Like there was something more to it.

    But, I am happy with the length. More detailed scenes/explanations would have spoiled the mojo of the story.

    I also love books with dogs and cute couples. Ivan-Maria were sweet and clichéd while Zash-Nastya were slow-burn. Ha Ha! Seems a bit odd, describing historical couples in contemporary terms…

    Another thing that I loved was the timeline the author followed in the book, along with how deftly she wove fact and fiction into the story. It says something if all I want to read next is the history of the Romanov family, especially when the Tsarina mentioned that her grandmother is Queen of England. I mean, how connected royal families are. While the Tsarina is herself German, married to a Russian Tsar, her grandmother was the English Queen! Mind-boggling

  • Chanel Rick

    I’ve no idea how I’m ever going to replace this story with another and move onto another book! There are a couple of things I didn’t enjoy about the book, like the lack of interaction we had with Olga and Tatiana. Unfortunately, all the siblings never really had a moment of their own where we could learn about how deep their sibling ship is with each other. Though, Alexei and Nastya’s relationship is the best. The sassy comments, the wild and funny scenes they made, the trust, the love, and the list goes on. Since the Tsarina and Rasputin are quite the scandal irl as well, I really wish we had gotten to know more details about their relationship. As much as I like the twist with the Tsarina giving her life force to Alexei via Rasputin, it just wasn’t enough. The awkward and sad distancing between Nastya and her mother post conversation was very sad, too. Yes, I agree that half the book towards the end felt rushed, it’s sad because this story had so much more potential had it been completed properly or even been longer, I’m sure a lot of us wouldn’t mind a bulkier book. Lastly, Yakov Yurovsky. Oh boy, this man was just painful. Nothing good ever came out whenever he was in the scene, and so, him getting such a merciful ending was disappointing to say the least. I wish Nastya had atleast gotten to avenge her parents and siblings the way she wanted to and not how her father, the Tsar, would’ve ideally wanted. Every book has its flaws but that’s not the highlight of this one. The way each scene was built with details and the accuracy of the history within this story was really one of the best things about it. Every character was brought to life, yes they were very much alive in real life but this allowed us to get to know them in a bit of a parallel universe. Also, Vasily Dochkin’s name was made to show the relevance it had to the original maker of the matryoshka doll. What a great way to inculcate that! Like a little tribute! Vira, Zash’s babushka, was a bit of an interesting character too, I wish we could’ve had more time with her. She didn’t have to be killed, it was awful. There were so many other ways she could’ve been valuable to the re-telling. Nastya forgiving Zash was something I saw coming, but I wish it had been done better. I can’t decide whether he truly deserved it, but he did repent for it a lot via his actions, completely contrary to how he was pre execution of the Romanovs. But then his comment about bald ex princesses comes back and I can’t help but ship Nash. Or, Zastya. Whichever works!! Overall I really did enjoy this book despite some of its flaws. It’s not perfect and that’s okay. The entire experience of reading it and understanding what the real Romanovs probably went through was quite surreal and important in its own way. This book makes you wonder and re-imagine how history must’ve gone down back then. Alexei playing with his toy soldiers and pretending to be a future Tsar for them to being the Tsarevich who will lead the White army to victory with the help of Dochkin, he’s SO PRECIOUS! So, I guess this is it. The last Romanov discussion post, it was a wonderful ride through this emotional rollercoaster. Good day, fellow readers. We made it to the finish line. Time to hunt for the next book!

  • Belinda Smith

    I agree with ALL your points. Alexei is definitely the best. Even with all that was going on, he was able to think like a grown-up, trying to think is Zash’s shoes, the way he spoke to Vira and Dochkin made me respect him more.

    Nastya was such an empowering character. She was fearless AND she loved books!!!! So relatable! wink wink I loved her relationship with her father. I loved how she could think on her feet. I love that Nastya wasn’t defined by her romance with Zash.

    JOY! I am so glad that she got to be a part of their journey to Dochkin. I loved the fact that she could understand that Alexei wasn’t strong enough to hold her when Zash brought her to the woods after Nastya and Alexei returned to their bodies. Still she tried comforting him by staying close to him making sure she isn’t disturbing him. That was so cute!

    THE DOLL!! She was such an enigma till the end. The fact that the doll was basically granting them their wishes was incredible.

    Ivan! He was such a nice guy who wanted to protect Maria. He wanted to save her, take her away from all this and live with her! I was crushed when he was killed. And making Zash bury him!😭

    Dochkin was the typical wise old man of the book.. he reminded me of Dumbledore (dunno why) 🙈. I was so glad that Nastya saved him too!! I dint want Yurovsky to win by killing Dochkin.

    The escape plan and the White Army were of no use. Atleast they gave the Romanovs a little hope to push through all the hardships they faced.

    I loved the first half with the family!!! It was so sweet despite Ivan dying and the prison-like living situation.
    The second part was not that well-written. I couldn’t understand the part where Nastya woke up from the execution with a broken rib while Alexei was in grave danger. It dint make sense that Nastya was strong enough to jump on a horse and save Zash and jump back into a moving train without any treatment to her wounds( which were none). But I liked the way the book ended. Forgiving Zash was a great deal. I am happy that Nastya doesn’t have to be alone.

    Yurovsky’s end was too easy.. he dint deserve peace! He must have suffered for what he did to the Romanovs. But the decision to use the spell on Yurovsky made me respect Nastya more… she could’ve used it on herself and taken the easy way out but she dint… Bravo!

    Overall it was an amazing book to read.💕💕💕💕

  • Ranja Chakraborty

    I absolutely agree with you on 1) Alexei : he truly was precious. When I had just read the book I truly loved him but after this documentary found out that the real Prince Alexei was nowhere as kind as Alexei?? I mean…I don’t know what to believe precisely. But considering how the book’s description about the father and Nastya were so on point- however that of their mother and brother were not. I definitely preferred the book version of both of these characters. 2) Nastya. I was so so glad that Nastya was the impish character that she was. No naive princess. And how she pulled the family through- or what was left of it. Sob sob3) Tsar Nicholas: actually, another description that was quite accurate. He was a very good father in history- as well as in the book. I also wish she and Alexandra had more of the story to themselves! From the historical story I learnt that even through all that time of trials and tribulations- their love and desire for each other never diminished. In fact- they themselves had a rather story book love story, complete with opposition from the mother in law. There was so much about Alexandra- and she was actually very strict. A good mother- but rather strict and curt from what I’ve learnt. 4) The Writing: there were some really good quotes in the story, such as the one you mention here. Even the one about “The bonds in our hearts…” And how a grieving Nastya wonders if the bond spans death as well. Not overly complex but effective and engaging. I also agree on how rushed Nastya and Zash’s story seemed to be. I was glad that their romance never took centre seat- but it seemed like all of a sudden he meant too much to her. Maybe…that is how love works? So I’m not faulting the book too much for that. I’m going to use the Layman’s terms when I say, "Zash’s explanation sucked. " I mean I was rolling my eyes so hard. I do like his character but the fact remains he was okay with the idea of Nastya dying knowing he had killed her and I just cannot fathom how he could ever be okay with it. I do grieve for the Babushka. I feel like her and Dochkin meeting would’ve been quite a spectacle! Also maybe she could have stayed with Nastya and helped with the spells. I am glad Joy survived and yes, Olga and Tatiana deserved a greater part of the book. But even so, I really really liked the book and would absolutely recommend it. Thanks to BooksnBeyond for introducing this book to me. Honestly I wouldn’t even have considered this under normal circumstances since princess and such tales aren’t really for me. But the history intrigued me and the trust on BnB propelled me forward and I’m glad that it did.

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