Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick (pseudonym)
“The world is the world, and we’re cast in whatever roles we fall into. It’s not my fault I was born wealthy any more than you were born poor.”
Set in the time of the Romanovs, just as Russia’s revolution is simmering, this young-adult historical-fiction novel captures a stunning romance, a harrowing adventure, and a political nightmare. Throw in a magical Faberge egg – crafted by a powerful noble and gifted to the royal family (but wanted desperately by the revolutionary Reds), and our protagonist Natalya will certainly be in for a thrilling ride. Can she save the egg and her star-crossed love for the prince, Alexei Romanov?
“My mind creates monsters more impressive than wolves”
Plot: So I typically don’t read a book (that hasn’t been recommended to me) unless I like the plot. And this plot certainly holds up to my expectations. This wasn’t another version of the Disney film, Anastasia. In fact, Anastasia was only mentioned two or three times throughout the novel. (Moreover, the novel wasn’t even from the point of view of a Romanov, but rather a close family friend, and future tsarina.) And this book was certainly more factually accurate (as I found out after considerable research upon finishing it) than that film.
Political Intrigue: I love how we get both the side of a White (a pro-government type) and a Red (a revolutionary) in this novel. There’s so much of the black and white of politics presented, but also that gray line in between. I have to say, I’m not very knowledgeable about the Russian Revolution (which I was rather happy about while reading this – I hate spoilers) so it did kind of anger me that we don’t get the full extent of what happened after the Revolution, rather the novel ends in its climax stage. Still, the amount of information given about the two sides – Red and White – and the differences between them is rather exquisite in a young adult novel. I do like to read historical fiction, and this wasn’t far away from being in that category, even though the protagonist was a teenage girl.
“Saint Petersburg was a city of illusions”
Historical/Geographical Accuracy: The little bits of Russian dispersed throughout were well placed, and I love the view of Russia that was painted by Patrick. I could almost imagine myself there, a duchess in a magnificent dress dancing gracefully with her beaux. Ah… Patrick certainly seems to have done her research well. She offers a view of Russia that underlines the themes present in this novel.
My only dislike was the ending; I honestly felt as though there should be a sequel. Although, of course, all the information about the Russian Revolution and what happened after is available on the web, it would still be exciting to read more from this author. Especially because not everything in this novel is historically accurate, nor is it supposed to be.
Other than that, it met every one of the expectations I have for a historical young-adult novel.
Typical depictions of violence in a young-adult novel centered around a revolution. PG-13, I’d say.
Other books by Jackson Pearce (a.k.a. J. Nelle Patrick)
May your life have many creased pages,