Daughters of a Dead Empire

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Modern Age

Daughters of a Dead Empire
Author: Tara O'Neil, Carolyn
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1918
Geographic Area: Russia
Country: Russia
Topics: Russian Revolution
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2022

Content Warning
violence, torture

World History > Modern Age > Russian History

"This fresh, thrilling take on Anastasia establishes that O'Neil is a debut author to watch." ―Buzzfeed

From debut author Carolyn Tara O'Neil comes a thrilling alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.

Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war―the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible―not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna's offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.

Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now―regardless of her loyalties―Evgenia is too.

Daughters of a Dead Empire is a harrowing historical thriller about dangerous ideals, inequality, and the price we pay for change. An imaginative retelling of the Anastasia story.

Emily's Review

First, I want to give this book points for being a YA novel with NO romance. That is such a rare thing to find these days.

This novel is a retelling of the Anastasia story - in this version, Anastasia very much remembers who she is. She is trying to flee to safety across a warring Russia whilst being pursued by the man who murdered her family. She meets Evgenia, a poor girl who is devoted to the Bolshevik cause. The two become unlikely friends, and both have to take a hard look at the cause they believed in and decide what they really want Russia to become.

What I loved about this book was the growing friendship between Anna and Evgenia. I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow. I really loved the character of Evgenia and how she learns and changes over the course of the story. Her arc was my favorite thing about this novel.

I also really liked how realistic this story felt - it wasn't the fairytale I expected it to be, which was refreshing. There was a lot of detail about the Romanov family and it really set the tone as a historical story rather than the typical fairytale version of Anastasia that I'm used to seeing.

This story was full of action, though it seemed to move a bit slowly in the first half. But that's ok because the second half more than makes up for it.

What I loved most about this novel was that the author does a great job of letting Anastasia and Evgenia grapple with their beliefs and the causes they stand behind. Because we get both of their perspectives, we really see inside their minds and come to understand why they think the way they do.

I really enjoyed this story and recommend it to anyone who wants to read about the Russian Revolution or read a realistic retelling of the Anastasia story.

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