Rating: 5/5 (The Romance of the book: 3/5) PoP:81%
This is an incredibly beautiful book. However, if you are looking for a light hearted romance, a dark romance, or a mafia romance this is not it. There is an element of romance that is important to the storyline, but I do not believe it is the shining star of this book. Sophie is clear that is her way of giving Anastasia Nikolaevna her HEA. It is a dark fantasy. Emphasis on the fantasy.
There are many driving factors in this book that those familiar with the story of the real Anastasia will recognize. Family and Rusya are two somewhat conflicting forces for a majority of the book. I applaud the work that Sophie did with the historical elements and their accuracy. She did a great job at showing the struggles of people in a range of social classes. And demonstrated how quickly things can change for all based on the decisions of a few. There are many parallels that can be drawn with society in this book and our own.
This is a long read and it takes you through many unexpected twists. Sophie divided the book into six parts that are all needed to complete the story, but do not expect to get through them quickly. This is truly the story of Anastasia. We see her life as a young girl discovering magic. Then we stay with her as she grows into adulthood with experiences that forever shape who she is. Sophie is known for writing strong heroines. With this story we get to see all the bright and dark things that make Anastasia that way.
As someone that reads and reviews mostly romance books, I have to discuss the romantic aspect of this story. Damien and Anastasia have a somewhat tumultuous initial meeting but there is some kind of connection that even at young ages they understand is important. They learn that they are stronger together but it takes a long, long time for them to be together. Their moments as a couple are touching and meaningful, but again I do not think their relationship is the biggest story line. There is little to no conflict between the two, but rather those they must fight against together.
I would recommend this book if you are a current fantasy reader or maybe looking to venture into the genre. I have not read many fantasy books but it did remind me of the feelings you get with many well known fantasy stories. It plays out like a movie or mini series. The added illustrations and music links help create a unique experience. I read on a Kindle Paperwhite and the illustrations still looked impressive on there but I did use my phone to see a few in full color. Sophie mentioned that she plans to write more in this world and I will continue to read them.