An electronic copy was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I was so excited to be able to read an electronic copy of this book. Upon seeing the cover I fell in love and knowing the story was set in Russia, I was more than eager to jump into reading this book. You see, as a child I was enthralled with Russia’s history and Saint Basil’s Cathedral in particular. It is not everyday you run across a book set there and historical Russia at that.
It started out wonderfully, the writing was beautiful, the descriptions easy for me to visualize. I was immediately drawn to Natalya and her affections toward Alexei. I found their interaction to be sweet and looked forward yet dreaded the outcome of their relationship.
Sadly, the story continued and had no more interactions between the two! The atmosphere and characters I was most interested in were largely absent (ok, completely absent) from the rest of the book. I had to adapt to this change and my appreciation of the story never could get back to the level it was in the first 5%.
We follow along with Natalya as she wanders her Russia as it is invaded by the Red Army. Though Natalya’s struggle through an occupied Russia as well as being held captive was full of action and suspense none of it resonated with me to the level I would have preferred. The writing remained strong for the most part but I had so much difficulty relating or connecting to the characters.
Natalya was extremely likeable to me in the beginning but as the story progressed I felt less inclined towards her. I felt she was never fully developed and I never had a clear feel for her. Her personality flip flopped between pages. At times she pushed herself and was strong then other times she made poor decisions and was the damsel in distress. None of this read as the one character causing her to feel disjointed and incomplete.
This book is based in historical Russia and features real people though many liberties have been taken. Patrick has added some magical elements and upped Alexie’s age (he was 13 when killed). I was fine with these adaptations but felt that she could have taken it even further and delved deeper into the Romanov family and Rasputin. It is evident that Patrick did her research and was able to create a tangible Russia that was easy to visualize for the most part.
I feel that Patrick did an excellent job taking the reader between both sides of the Russian Civil War. She drew the lifestyle of both sides wonderfully and I was able to relate to the struggles of both. I found the book most interesting when it delved into the gap between the royal and the poor and the reasons behind the Red Army’s uprising.
Though the writing and research were strong I was never able to connect with the main character, Natalya. Her character felt disjointed to me and her personality flip flopped too often for my liking. This disconnect left me incapable of ever immersing myself fully into her story and the book itself. Through-out my entire read (past that first 5%) I felt at arm’s length and sadly never cared one way or another about Natalya’s outcome. Given that, I did enjoy the depth Patrick gave to both sides, the White Army as well as the Red.