Book Review: Tsarina
By: J. Nelle Patrick
Published By: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 27, 2014
Page Count: 331
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fantasy
The tragic story of the Romanov family has been one that has fascinated me for years. I couldn't fathom how a country could allow such atrocities to occur. Their story is one of the most heart breaking in history. When I learned about this novel, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. I was intrigued to see how historical fiction and fantasy would marry to tell the tale of Russia's revolution and the dismantling of the monarchy.
Tsarina is beautifully written and well researched. The fantasy elements blend seamlessly with the historical truth which creates a delicious sense of "What If...." as one progresses through the story. I often find myself wishing that a little more magic existed in real life. It would be so cool to have something like the Constellation Egg. I found the lore surrounding the egg and its powers to be fascinating.
In addition to the fantasy element, I was impressed by the amount of historical detail in this one. Even the most minute details seemed to be authentic. I love learning about past decades and visiting settings in my mind that I haven't had the pleasure of visiting in real life. Patrick transports readers into the very heart of the revolution; having a front row seat to history is always a plus in my opinion. I was also lucky enough to hear the author speak at her book release party. She was so enthusiastic about this story and her research that I just knew it would be a great read. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I not only liked it, but I loved it.
One of my favorite aspects of this one is the friendship between Natalya and Emilia. It can often be difficult to find strong female friendships in YA literature - especially a friendship that doesn't involve some sort of love triangle. I loved that Natalya and Emilia genuinely care for one another. Their friendship grows stronger throughout the story as they are forced to endure hardships and fear. I was in awe of their bravery.
Another element I enjoyed was seeing both sides of the revolution. There is always two sides to every story, but I admit that I haven't always concerned what it truly meant to be a Red or a White. Each side had valid points and thought what they were doing was correct. Natalya and Leo become symbols for the different schools of thought.
I also liked that while there does seem to be more story to tell, this one has a definite ending. I am irked by cliffhangers and the lengthy wait between books.
Tsarina has earned a spot on my favorites shelf. I hope that more novels that combine history and fantasy will be hitting the shelves soon. I loved the mixture of these two genres.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated with Natalya's reading with Babushka.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The historical details
First Sentence: The rioters at the gates were loud, but no match for the music inside the Winter Palace.
Favorite Character: Natalya
Least Favorite Character: Misha
Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia's Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it's not in the right hands.