The entire time I was reading this book, I found myself wishing I didn’t know how it ends. Dunlap wrote a book that had me dreading each turn of the page, and yet I couldn’t stop reading.
Everyone knows the story of Anastasia and her family. It’s been done many times, and yet this book was different. It took the events and history everyone knows, and added a personal element to it. Dunlap added the thrill of first love and secrecy. It brought the story to life in a whole new way.
The characters have new life as well. It’s easy to understand each person and how their actions helped shape the perception the public had of them and the eventual uprising. I loved how Sasha brought the real world to Anastasia and made her think about her life compared to those of everyone else. She goes from being very naive and thinking her life is just like that of the people, only slightly more privileged, to realizing just how wrong she was yet wishing for that life she thought she had. Anastasia really grows through the entire book and I really liked that.
The only thing I didn’t really enjoy was the amount of summary that existed in the novel. I understand why it’s there, because it’s hard to condense 4, almost 5, years into one book, but I wish some of it had been broken up by more interaction with her family and dialogue. Even though there was a lot of summary, I was incredibly grateful Dunlap didn’t use too much artistic freedom and rearrange all the events that unfolded just to make it fit. She stuck to the real history, for the most part, and the few things she did change or add didn’t impact the novel in any way.
This was a great book about one of, what I consider to be, the most interesting times in European history. It really shows how just a few actions can set off a snowball that ends tragically. I especially enjoyed the ending, even though it is one of the saddest conclusions I’ve read, simply because you know what happens next, even without being told. For anyone that loves history, this is a fantastic book to read.