Tag: Nadine Brandes

It was said a wolverine could never be tamed. I suspected this was also the case for the Bolsheviks.

Book Review | Romanov by Nadine Brandes

It’s 2019, which means it’s over a hundred years since the Russian revolution overturned the Romanov dynasty, and the rumours about Anastasia have yet to die. In Romanov, Nadine Brandes has melded the facts with the rumours, added a fantastical element of spellmasters and magic potions, and created a brilliant novel in the style of Fawkes (but different).

Anyone who knows the Romanov story will know the basics of the plot of Romanov.

But I’m not going to spoil any of the details for those who don’t. I suspect readers who know the story will find it easier to get into Romanov, but the background knowledge isn’t necessary.

Romanov is the story of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna.

At sixteen, Anastasia is the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas of Russia. But Nicholas is no longer Tsar, and Nastya is no longer a princess. All she and her family want is the opportunity to live their lives as normal Russian citizens in a village somewhere. And Nastya wants to learn the secrets of spells, so she can care for and perhaps even heal Alexei, her younger brother.

The story brings out Nastya’s intelligence, determination, and devotion—both to her family, and to the Russian people. Brandes does a convincing job of showing her as a resourceful young woman who, despite her privileged upbringing, genuinely cares for the people and wants the best for them. But, like the rest of her family, she does not believe the Bolsheviks and the new Soviet government will bring that best.

Imprisonment brings out the best in Nastya and the rest of her family, and many of the guards are loyal to the family while still supporting the Bolshevik cause.

Yes, there is a fantasy element to Romanov—this is a world with magic.

However, the family pray to Iisus (Jesus), and are of strong faith. So while Romanov isn’t an overtly Christian novel, it has definite Christian themes. I enjoyed Romanov even more than I enjoyed Fawkes, and I look forward to seeing what historical characters Nadine Brandes next chooses to feature … and what fantastical twist she will put on them.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Nadine Brandes

Find Romanov online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click here to find Romanov and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store.

Quote from Fawkes by Nadine Brandes: Fighting for what you believe in is subjective. We need to fight for truth. Your beliefs can be misguided.

#Throwback Thursday | Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (which previously appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers). Fawkes is an intriguing mix of fantasy and historical fiction, and so is her new novel, Romanov, which releases next month. But now, let’s check out Fawkes!

About Fawkes

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

You can find Fawkes online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

Remember, remember, the fifth of November …

Fawkes begins in 1604, not long after King James I has ascended the throne of England and joined the thrones of England and Scotland. The country is filled with tension as two factions fight to rule.

The history books has this fight as being Roman Catholic vs. Protestant, with King James (and Queen Elizabeth before him) being firmly of the reformed Protestant faith. But Fawkes twists this into a fight between Keepers and Igniters, both blaming the other for the plague of stone that is at risk of taking over the land.

Fawkes begins with Thomas Fawkes, the narrator, at boarding school on the eve of his Color Test.

Yes, there are echoes of Harry Potter and Divergent here, in that every adult has a Color which they can control to a greater or lesser extent. Keepers believe each person can and should only control one Color. Igniters believe the Keepers have been hiding the White Light from the public for centuries. Both sides believe the other caused the plague which kills by turning its victims to stone.

Thomas Fawkes is the son of Guy Fawkes, the most famous of the thirteen men who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament to kill King James I and restore a Catholic king to the throne (I live in New Zealand. We still “celebrate” Guy Fawkes with fireworks on 5 November every year). Those who know history (and know history is written by the victors) know the plot was foiled and Guy Fawkes has gone down in history as the bad guy.

Fawkes places us in the mind of Thomas.

While he and his father have been estranged for years, both are Keepers. At least, Thomas thinks he’s a Keeper … except he keeps hearing the voice of the White Light. He has been raised to believe Keepers are right, and he has no reason to doubt that.

But he’s never actually stopped to consider what is true.

And that’s an unexpectedly modern theme—that what we believe to be right and true isn’t necessarily so. Instead, we need to search for truth. Find truth. And fight for truth.

All of which are difficult in this modern era of #FakeNews.

Anyway, students of history will understand that while Fawkes is trying to persuade us that Thomas Fawkes (and the thirteen conspirators) are the “good guys”, history tells us they are not. That makes the early chapters an uncomfortable read. But students of history will be pleased to know the story does run true to history. Well. Kind of. History doesn’t have Keepers and Igniters and the Stone Plague. Fawkes does not have Roman Catholics and Protestants at loggerheads. But the parallels are there for those who know or care to look.

I’m not a big fantasy reader. But Fawkes worked for me, perhaps because it was a Harry Potter-esque twist on truth that allowed the reader to consider Truth.

It got me thinking without taking me out of the story, and that’s high praise.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

You can read the introduction to Fawkes below: