Monday, June 30, 2014

[Review: Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick]

Author: J. Nelle Patrick
Series: ?
Pages: 331
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction/Alternate History
Date Published: February 27th, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Format Read: Hardcover from the library


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.

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To Tsarina,

Thanks for being, what I think is, the perfect version of an alternate history novel! You played at twisting things and adding a (slightly goofy) magical flare to a time in history that was scary and sad. You gave us real people as characters and you gave us fake characters that were able to tell your story. Sure you flubbed a few things to make your story work, but isn't that how you make a story work? You were so atmospheric and chaotic and I loved every minute that I was in your beautifully written pages!

-The White Unicorn

Guys, this book is so gorgeously written. Patrick has this way with words. Her sentences are beautiful and the flow of her writing is perfect for this story. It's just gritty enough to make the horrors happening in Russia feel real, while also capitalizing on the glitz and glory that was Romanov ruled Russia. This story is masterfully told, even if some of magical realism made me chuckle. The fact that Patrick could take the known facts about the Romanov's and the political things that were swirling around them and add a magical element that, for all intensive purposes, worked tells you just how good of a story teller she is.

The three main characters that we are introduced to never existed, but they show us both sides of the war as it's unfolding and escalating to the end of the Russia that they all grew up in. Natalya is spunky and headstrong. She's also a bit rash and hasty in her choices, which caused me to roll my eyes at her. That being said I liked her and I felt like emotionally she was fully realized, even if she wasn't always the smartest cookie in the jar. Emilia started out soft. She was the best friend who didn't seem to have any backbone and then out of nowhere she became a bit of a badass and I loved that about her. Leo is a red. He's everything that Natalya and her family are against and I loved the tension between the two of them. I found him to be a fascinating character and I liked that Patrick decided to give us a look into that side of the revolution. We see so much of the Romanov side of things, so I thought that was a smart move on her part.

We don't see much of the royal family, so if you think that's what you're going to be getting, you're wrong. This really worked for me, but I can see it coming as surprise for some. Alexei shows up for a chapter and a half, but then the chaos hits and he goes from a character to someone who is mentioned a lot. Patrick flubs his age in a way that makes him seemingly ageless, even though we know that he died when he was 13. Which makes his relationship with Natalya a little weird, but who's really paying attention to that. 

Tsarina is driven by a love story between a doomed monarch and his lady love and the magical egg that's keeping him healthy and is also keeping his family in power. Patrick could have changed history in her novel, but instead she stays true to the facts and I'm so glad that she did. I mean, there was no magical egg, but most of the rest of hr story is drenched in history and you can tell that she really did her homework. 

In the end, I really enjoyed this book. I think it's fantastical and fun and if you take the weird egg out of the mix you have a really interesting historical fiction novel. It's a book about love and how that love changes and the crazy things that life throws at you. If you don't mind magical realism and you like Romanov Russia, read this one!

4 Unicorns = Close to perfect!


Michelle (A Thousand Lives Lived) said...

So I've heard great things about this book all around. Plus, it has such a gorgeous cover! I recently have picked it up but other reads have been taking its place. I'll get to it very soon!

Would you mind answering my discussion question on my blog? :)

Nicole said...

I am definitely reading this one, and soon! I want pretty words and historical fiction and Russia!