Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn’t. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn’t know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college, until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…
Design – Cathleen Elliott/Fly Leaf Design Images – Elisa Lazo de Valdez/Corbis, Jon Feingersh/Jupiter Images, Mordolff/istockphoto Rating – 2/5
This cover could be more interesting if it had less going on. I do not like the strange face on the left side, which I think is meant to be Baba Yaga the witch. The blue effect in the background is a bit strange, and the extra words on the cover are just more clutter. The title is distorted, but not enough to look intentional and noticeable. The cover could have been something unique, in the vein of the original Sisters Red cover, except based on the tale referenced in this book.
Dreaming Anastasia is an enjoyable ride with a slight fantasy/paranormal element. The heroine, Anne, is wonderfully street-smart throughout the entire book. Although the plot, which is full of Russian history, gets a bit tangled sometimes, this is a great read with awesome characters.
- Anne – It’s so great to read about a girl who doesn’t lose her mind when an attractive guy shows up. Anne does not trust Ethan as soon as she meets him, and farther into the book she is still conscious of the fact that she knows very little about him – and that he could be dangerous. She stands up for herself and she confronts Ethan when she notices him following her. Anne is smart, she doesn’t freak out when everything starts happening. She actively tries to find a way to solve the puzzle she’s been thrown into, rather than just reacting to the things happening to her.
- Tess – This is how to write a best friend. While Tess definitely takes a backseat to the complex plot, she remains invested in what’s going on with Anne. She isn’t written away conveniently in a fight or a vacation, as best friends often are. Tess does her own research on Anastasia and the Romanovs to help her friend, and she’s not boy crazy. Tess yells at Anne when Anne assumes that Tess cares whether Ethan is safe or not – she doesn’t give a crap about the dude anne just met, she wants to know Anne’s ok.
- Russian folklore – There is a Russian folklore tale woven into Dreaming Anastasia that is really interesting. Anastasia tells herself to be brave like Vasilisa, the heroine of a fairytale her mother told her. She also has a matroyshka doll (Russia nesting doll) that talks to her, like Vasilisa did. The tale is also incorporated into how Anne figures out the puzzle of finding Anastasia. Three knights on three horses, each a different color, are painted on a Russian lacquer box, along with Baba Yaga’s hut. Anna has to decipher what role the tale’s parts play in she and Anastasia’s situation in order to rescue her. This is the tale I think the cover should have referenced.
- Anastasia’s story – The only thing I know about Anastasia is what I learned from the animated movie, which is not historically accurate. Some of the chapters are letters from Anastasia, written to her dead family members after the attack on her family. These letters give a look into her life before the assassination of the Romanovs – a peek into the family’s relationship with Rasputin, their alleged betrayer. Anne and Ethan also do a fair amount of research on the Romanov family and the circumstances surrounding their murder. All this history and backstory feels like a part of the story, not like a big info dump of history. You learn new details about Anastasia’s life and family as they become relevant.
- Russian bad guys – There are a handful of Russian dudes involved in Anastasia’s disappearance. There’s Rasputin, a family advisor who’s rumored to have supernatural powers. Then there’s a shady guy who is in the brotherhood thing with Ethan, and some guys who seem to be his henchmen and attack Anne and Ethan. Plus Viktor and Baba Yaga, who are both sort of wild cards who work for themselves. It’s a little complicated to have that many potential villains.
- powers – This book would be great just with the mystery of ‘how do we rescue Anastasia / how is Anne connected to Anastasia / is Baba Yaga on our side?’ Except that on top of all that, Anne also has some freaky emerging supernatural powers. I could have done without the powers part. Why can’t Anne just be an average girl somehow mixed up in this? I don’t even remember whether or not Anne used her powers in the rescue attempt; just that she blasted some random baddies with them.
I don’t know what stuns me most – the fact that Ethan backs off and stands there silently, as does Olensky, or the fact that Tess actually seems to know something – most of it seemingly accurate – about Russian current events. – Anne pg. 165
It’s like it’s in the ‘Bad Guy’s Handbook’ or something. Keep on ticking as long as possible so you can continue to stay rich and powerful and pretty.
Ethan’s right. Knowing that you can’t die if you just keep one girl alive – a girl the world thinks is dead anyway – how could that not be tempting? – Anne pg. 248
Acquired: bought (ebook)