Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review: Anastasia's Secret

Anastasia's Secret
By Susanne Dunlap
Publication date: March 2, 2010
My rating: ***

My review:

Anastasia's Secret is the story of Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanova, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. In this fictionalized retelling, Anastasia falls in love with Sasha, a young man who becomes a soldier and then a guard during her family's captivity. The story starts in 1913 when Anastasia and Sasha first meet and details the years afterward during World War I and the coup that topples her father from his throne. With Sasha's help Anastasia may be able to escape the terrible fate the revolutionaries have planned...

 I think it must be very challenging to write a novel about a real historical figure and especially to add fictional elements to that person's life. With Anastasia's Secret I thought that the relationship between Anastasia and Sasha was one of the best parts of the novel. I really liked Sasha's character although at times I couldn't help but wonder what his political beliefs were. He provided Anastasia with a shoulder to lean on as well as a more balanced view of what was going on in Russia. While I think Anastasia must have lived a pretty sheltered life I don't know if she was as naive as she appeared to be in the book. I liked the idea that Anastasia had someone to be there for her and the chance for love in her short, tragic life. I was also intrigued to see if the story would end as it did historically or if perhaps this Anastasia would escape to safety.

I've been interested in Anastasia's life since I first learned about her in high school so I was very excited about Anastasia's Secret. Unfortunately I did not enjoy the story as much as I hoped I would. I had difficulty in connecting with Anastasia. There were a lot of instances where Anastasia conveniently overhears information so that we can read about various historical events, etc. I found that to be distracting and a little unbelievable. I also felt that we don't really get to know the other characters besides Sasha. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and I found myself repeatedly referring to the list in the front of the book to remember who was who. I was most disappointed that Anastasia's family members weren't fully developed as characters. I did like Anastasia's sister Masha. I felt like I got to know her a little better than the other siblings.

I learned a lot from reading Anastasia's Secret and I enjoyed Anastasia's fictional romance with Sasha. I was interested in all the details about Anastasia's life and Russian history during that time period. Seeing Anastasia and her mother and sisters tending to the injured soldiers during WWI was very moving and it was sad to read about everything they had to go through after the coup. Overall I thought Anastasia's Secret was an interesting story and I was moved at times but I wish I could have connected more with the characters. Susanne Dunlap is a talented historical fiction writer. I loved her other YA historical fiction novel, The Musician's Daughter. If you don't know much about Russian history and you are interested in learning about Anastasia you might enjoy Anastasia's Secret.


  1. Great review. This book is on my tbr list and I have been reading reviews since the book came out. Too bad that the other characters in the book, the family, aren't developed. That would be great to read more about them too. Though I love that Anastasia got a love interest in the book, that's always fun to read about. I never read a book by this author before, but this book will be the first! :)

  2. Great review. I appreciate your honesty. I am sorry you didn't like this book as much as you hoped; it does sound good so I might still check it out as I really don't know much about this time in history. The relationship between Sasha and Anastasia sounds like something I might like.

  3. Awesome review, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much as you had hoped. I'm fascinated by the real Anastasia's story too, and I'm really interested in the romance in this one, I'll probably still read it :)


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