I ended up actually really enjoying this The fantasy element was pretty weak, but I loved the setting and the integration of Russian history. Ughwhat a tedious book I could go on for a while, but let s leave it with unlikable main character and the poorly executed story of the Russian Revolution mixed with strange, intentional historical inaccuracies I m looking at you, Alexei Romanov and the same, tired Russia is a magical land of ballet and glittering palaces and fluffy snow cliche that people are fond of using in novels and cinema This book also deals with a very touchy subject and many people don t quite understand all the complexities of the time period As for this book, it really shouldn t even be classified as historical fiction Sorry, but this book didn t sit well with me. Natalya Knows A Secret A Magical Faberge Egg Glows Within The Walls Of Russia S Winter PalaceIt Holds A Power Rooted In The Land And Stolen From The MysticsA Power That Promises A Life Of Love For Her And Alexei RomanovPower, That, In The Right Hands, Can Save Her Way Of LifeBut It S In The Wrong Hands Tsarina, Tsarina, why wouldn t you let me love you I wanted to love this book you guys It s imperial Russia at the time of the Russian Revolution THERE ARE ROMANOVS according to the blurb which is a complete LIE because there is only a physical Romanov presence in the first chapter I can t be the only one who looked at this book and thoughtright And while there was some of this And the teensiest bit of this There was mostly this Magic Egg.Read the full review on Cuddlebuggery. For a concise summary, see Sarah Smith s review2.5 stars NOT, in my opinion, perfect for Gemma Doyle fans The Gemma Doyle series is much complex and mature with a intense and less logic deprived fantasy element Also, Libba Bray doesn t screw with real people or much of real events.Overall, Tsarina is a fairly average YA book with a good deal of historical inaccuracy, a lot of philosophical rambling, and a weak fantasy element that had logic issues It would be three stars, but the ending was awful I don t care about the romance, I need logic If you want a semi historical fantasy romance, I would read The Wrath and the Dawn instead I only gave it three stars, but at least it doesn t screw with history.If you came here for the fantasy romance, the fantasy element is pretty weak, except in the end, and there s a lot of holes in the logic As for romance, there s about ten pages of it, mostly in the beginning Mostly, the underdeveloped characters are romping about revolutionary Russia in search of a magical Mcmuffin cliche Faberg egg, breaking things in occasionally good purple prose, and misusing historical terms here and there see Juliet Camille s review, Beatrix s review Katherine s review, and Sara s review Here s what annoyed me 1 The characters Natalya rocked back and forth between saying stupid things like how the Reds were ruining the party she wasn t actually participating in, and thus dishonoring their country, and going on philosophical ramblings with lots of metaphors Fair I asked, shaking my head the world is the world and we re cast into whatever roles we fall into It s not my fault that I was born rich and you were born poor.You want to destroy a world of mountains and valleys and make a plain flat field There s also this one part where she just randomly dangles her legs over the edge of the train car door something I never would have done the day before yesterday, but now seemed no life threatening than our current situation That paragraph is for the sole purpose of her discovering icicles with which she can open these cans of caviar they found And don t get me started on how stupid she is in the first chapter If only they understood that Alexei would be the greatest thing ever to happen to Russia Why Because he loves you In the second chapter, she magically became better, but then she started talking about how Russian winters got rid of Napoleon and the Poles However Once she actually steps outside into the Russian winter in the present, she just starts talking about how pretty snow is as if it could never possibly be a problem It was a particularly enjoyable pastime, spotting the visitors the people who didn t know just how to bow into the wind She loves her country, supposedly for than its parties, but for what else does she love it Does she think that by her half baked plan to get the magic egg and get her historically inaccurate bad boy boyfriend on the throne mean love for her country view spoiler And how does she need deserve the egg than Maria, whose power it was partially to begin with If it weren t for the fact that the egg s power can for no apparent reason only be transferred to one person, the fantasy part of this book would be totally pointless and Natalya would be nothing than an entitled brat hide spoiler Tsarina by J Nelle Patrick has a lot of potential Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I was hoping I could count this story as one of my new favorite reads I will say though that my favorite elements of the story are seeing the Romanov family I could have done with a lot of them actually as well as Rasputin himself and the 1917 Russian setting as the Revolution is really beginning to hit home The author takes some liberties with the timeline of events and changes up some of the cast in order to suit the story that she s telling I also have to admit that I didn t find our Natalya, our leading lady, all that inspiring as a potential heroine Although Tsarina never quite hit the mark for me, it s still an enjoyable read If you like the 1997 animated movie Anastasia, you may also enjoy this stand alone historical fantasy novel. Initial reaction THAT ENDING, WHYYYYYYY Note I could totally see it coming, but I still hoped that the plotberg would be avoided Spoiler it was hit at full speed ahead.Review Russian history ranks highly among my favorite kinds of history Let s be honest some crazy shit happened in Russia There are so many amazing stories to be told As such, I was thrilled to hear about J Nelle Patrick s Tsarina The fact that Patrick is actually a pseudonym for Jackson Pearce upped my excitement, since I really enjoyed Sisters Red The Russia stuff is delightful and the writing solid, but Tsarina took of a fantasy angle than I was really expecting.Read the full review at A Reader of Fictions. This was a solid four stars for me up until I figured out my hopes for the direction of the romance were wrong, and then that ending The story is still good enough to merit a happy three though allow me to elucidate on my experience At its base, Tsarina is a historical fantasy crafted around the Romanov family during the revolution, but it feels like a YA romance in some ways Natalya is the young noble that has the heart of Alexei Romanov, and he hers They have known each other their whole lives and have the love that comes from complete security in one s choice, despite their young age Alexei takes Natalya into a deeper level of their relationship with the revelation of the Constellation Egg, a gift from Rasputin that has magical powers imbued by the mystic himself He no longer has to fear his hemophilia as the egg heals him as surely as nothing happened at all, and as he reveals this to Natalya, he divulges that the egg doesn t only work as a healer, but does much like protecting those that the Romanov s love They share a very sweet and tender moment as this conversation goes on, even though they can hear the chanting of rioters just outside the gates Neither the young Romanov nor his love actually believe anything come of the people protesting, and many times Natalya views them as children throwing fits, as she believes completely in her Tsar, and his capabilities of quelling the growing problem The love between her and Alexi was well crafted and nicely subtle very sweet and believable Alexei must have seen the hurt on my face hiding my thoughts from him was nearly impossible He saw every blink, every fidget, every half sigh I suspect it was because, given his condition, he spent much of his life being watched and worried about he learned to be equally aware of others pain, be it of the body or the heart Along with the fact that I really found myself caring about both Natalya and Alexei, I cared about Emilia as well She and Natalya were truly great and as their friendship grew so too did my enjoyment of the story Those of us who remained were orphaned, wandering about, waiting for the world we d always known to spin back around and claim us It was lonely now, our houses islands amid broken seas of our old lives I loved the way these relationships developed, and have to point out how well written this book is It was very easy to feel what Natalya and Emilia were going through and it was easy to picture the Russian that we were shown.Now, my issue with the story, centers on the other love interest Leo It s not even that I dislike Leo, it s that I don t like the way the story worked around him Everything was too rushed, and it felt like it made what I d read before less authentic Let me explain as best as I can but it s spoilery, very much so, so do NOT read if you don t want to be spoiled view spoiler Leo meets Natalya after she and Emilia had managed to escape the riots that burned their homes at least Emilia s and he was supposed to take them to the train station so they could leave for Paris, but he revealed he knew about the Constellation Egg and all that it meant, and in the end Natalya agrees to get it to keep it safe for her Tsar Leo isn t what he seemed though and kidnaps the girls only to become embroiled in the main plot of the story the developing love between him and Natalya The three of them go to Moscow a harrowing journey let me tell you, and once they re there Emilia was able to get Leo arrested and she and Natalya safely ensconced at her uncle s house But Natalya has a great deal of patriotism and wants to find the egg no matter the fact that the Romanovs have been brutally murdered The Egg s powers still worked because they were working for Natalya She decides that Emilia is too loyal a friend to go on to Paris without her, and she is, so in order to keep her on the path she knew she wanted, Natalya decides to lie and tell her that she and Leo are in love Emilia is rightfully outraged at this, because up to that point there was nothing to base that on, other than they softened towards each other I actually thought it was going to be a great friendship and one that taught both that each side has positives as well as negatives, but that s not what went down Instead we find that Natalya and Leo love each other and the power of the egg transfers to him as well Stockholm It was all very rushed, and credit where credit is due, the author makes well placed reasoning for their decision Things like Natalya admitting that she and Alexei would always be intertwined because of the Egg and how the Egg made it impossible for her to make the same mistake of not say aloud her love this time to Leo The way it s presented isn t the worst thing I ve ever read by far, but it just didn t work for me hide spoiler Saint Petersburg was a city of illusions. Holy hell, I want to go to Russia now I mean, I did before But now I really want to go This novel so beautifully captures the cities of St Petersburg and Moscow at the height of the 1917 communist revolution It expertly blends the historical facts with elements of Russian mythology and sensitively portrays both sides of the revolution by allowing you to come to your own conclusions about which side is to blame if, in fact, either is We see angry poor men being driven into the ground by the hard labour they perform, while their employers sit in cosy, gold plated luxury We see people being dragged from their homes and murdered by the aforementioned angry poor men for crimes they had no say in This novel asks that you think about one thing It is not our fault where and into what circumstances we are born We have no control over that But are we to blame if we simply accept things the way they are without trying to change them The author says in her note at the end The Russian Revolution, truth be told, needs little to no fictionalization to be a fascinating time period, full of beauty and horror and wonder. And I like how close to real events she has kept the framework of her story, how she weaves in the Romanov family, Grigori Rasputin and the imperial Faberge eggs I found this addition quite fascinating I couldn t put this wild tale of fact and fiction down.I only realised recently just how important atmosphere is to a novel It s not really something you consider outright when thinking about a book but I honestly believe it can make or break it Consider your favourite books Maybe they have an atmosphere of fast paced, heart pounding, will they live or die tension that drags you right into the centre of the story Maybe there s a bittersweet sadness that makes you feel like you might burst into tears any second even at the happy parts of the book Maybe it s a spine chilling creepiness But, whatever, atmosphere is what takes you out of the real world and plants you in another World building is nothing without atmosphere My point I am rarely so wholly absorbed into another place and time as I was with Tsarina.Look at these quotes and tell me you can t feel the Russian air on your face and the excitement and terror of the revolution There were bridges from one to the next, and the canals were deep, maintained with stone walls that held the Neva River at bay But we divided ourselves with harsher lines than the land did the rich and the poor, the merchants and the nobles, the Whites and the Reds When the river would occasionally flood the canals and blur the lines between islands and districts, we would hastily fix it, tighten things, firm up the boundaries and make sure the illusion, the lie, the fantasy held. There was no mistaking a Russian winter It was a unique thing, a creature born and bred for Russian soil, one that sometimes brutalized the natives but often served as our secret weapon Napoleon s army was defeated not only by the Russian people, but by Russia herself. It was lonely now, our houses islands amid broken seas of our old lives. It is so beautifully written Part survival story in some ways, part historical fantasy in others Despite the way it starts with Natalya and Alexei declaring their love for one another, this is far from a mere romance It is brutal, even so because it is based in fact You find yourself sympathising with both sides and hating both sides simultaneously I love novels that can make you feel so many complex emotions.I m also not one for patriotism or nationalism I find myself nodding along with Virginia Woolf s My country is the whole world quote but I found it very easy to get caught up in the passion Nataliya feels for her country And I m not even Russian She has to make a decision whether to flee to France to escape the revolution or stay behind and risk everything to try and save her country, and I completely understood her desire not to abandon ship There s a certain ferocious passion that infuses this novel and I think that s why everything I may not usually agree with makes so much senseHow could a city so full of people feel so void of souls I was leaning towards five stars from very early with this book but I was just a little disappointed that the ending felt so rushed We d been set up in a beautifully atmospheric novel with characters I really liked, only for it to feel tied up too quickly It didn t ruin the book but I thought it could have been better, which is why my rating is four stars instead of five But don t be put off This is an excellent book that I would recommend to all fans of historical fiction I enjoyed it a lot One final quoteYou said it wasn t your fault for being born rich any than it was my fault for being born poor And you re right But if we don t do anything to fix the world, if we just shrug and let children starve and soldiers die and people be treated like cattle if we don t fix the world, Miss Kutepova, I believe it becomes our fault Gorgeous, riveting, and heartbreaking all at once Parts of this book made me desperately sad, even though I knew they were coming and that is nothing short of spectacular writing Review to come.
J Nelle Patrick is a pen name of author
- 328 pages
- J. Nelle Patrick
- 23 December 2019 J. Nelle Patrick