Title: Dreaming Anastasia
Author: Joy Preble
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Dreaming Anastasia Series (Book 1)
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback, 310 Pages
ISBN-10: 1402218176 (Sourcebooks)
ISBN-13: 978-1402218170 (Sourcebooks)
Reviewed by: Sheila
What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?
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…
Quick & Dirty: A young girl’s dreams become the key to recovering the last of the Romanov family.
Opening Sentence: I didn’t always dream about my family.
The story of Anastasia Romanov and the tragedy that befell her and the rest of the Russian Royal family is a fairly well known one. The evil Rasputin and the murmurings of his dark magic make it easier to balance it out with the hopeful theories that one of the Romanovs survived, namely Anastasia. Dreaming Anastasia takes this idea and delivers its own unique theory on what happened so many years ago. Baba Yaga, famed witch from Russian folklore, steals Anastasia away at the last moment and keeps her prisoner inside her chicken-leg house. Then a prophecy foretells of a girl that will have the ability to set the Grand Duchess free. From this, a Brotherhood dedicates themselves to finding this girl and helping her realize her destiny.
16-year-old Anne Michaelson has been having weird dreams for a while now. Dreams that are seen through another girl’s eyes depicting a time and place far from Anne’s. She believes that it is just her imagination until she meets a hot looking stranger that tells her the truth; that the dreams are of a real girl, Anastasia Romanov, and that it is her destiny to free her from her prison in Baba Yaga’s wandering home. Really, what teenager is going to believe that? Anne expresses lots of cynicism about the whole thing but she can’t deny that there is someone out to get her, whether the cause is her “destiny” or the man that swooped into her life at the same time. Anne’s character may vacillate, what teenager doesn’t, but she really has a good heart. If there is a way that she can help save somebody from such a sad and lonely life, she will do what she can to help. Though there is an element of fantasy attached to this story, Anne’s character reactions seem more realistic than most. And like all good fairy tales, there is a love interest.
Etanovich “Ethan” Kozninsky looks like a typical 18-year-old; but his looks are deceiving. His true age is closer to 100 and his immortality comes at a price. He is tasked by Viktor and the Brotherhood, a sacred group of Russian royalists, to find the girl named in prophecy that can release Anastasia back into our world. He is very determined and goal-oriented, but naïve. His belief in the Brotherhood and its principles make him blind to potential deception. Now that he has found the one they have all been looking for, he is forced to protect her from unseen enemies. Can Ethan do what it takes to keep Anne safe and free Anastasia? If it comes down to it, will he choose his duty or his heart? Let’s face it, there has to be some feelings that arise between Anne and Ethan; it’s the whole fighting-for-our-lives adrenaline going on and sexual tension thing that is always there between the sexes in these sort of tales.
Anastasia Romanov and Baba Yaga’s story is interwoven within this novel. The mixture of Russian history and folktales gives not only a great base story, but a more realistic aspect to the fantasy. But do the tales ever tell the whole truth? Are the lines between good and evil much less clear than we initially were led to believe?
Viktor and The Brotherhood are part of an ancient sect of guys that are dedicated to protecting the royal Russian line, aka the Romanovs. The night that tragedy struck the royal family, it was the Brotherhood and their magic that compelled Baba Yaga to save Anastasia. By doing so, they also tied their lives to that of the last Romanov. As long as she remains imprisoned and ageless, so were they. What was supposed to be only a few years started to extend far beyond. After so many years of immortality, some may decide that the girl everyone believes is dead may be better kept that way and thereby insuring their own endless lifespan. So who is on the side of freeing Anastasia and who is no longer? If this sect of priests can no longer be trusted, who can Anne and Ethan turn to for help?
Overall, I truly enjoyed this book. Dreaming Anastasia is full of facts, fiction, and fantasy with a little bit of flirting. There are enough themes and events that a well rounded reader can appreciate. And while there are many books out there that have teenagers with destinies, the uniqueness of Anne and her story remains true to herself and her age. Mainly, she changes her acceptance from one moment to the next like a typical teen. She is the perfect heroine in a group of old-fashioned zealots and true believers.
He lets go of my arm, then takes both my hands tightly in his. “Believe, Anne. Believe. It is your destiny.”
“Destiny? I’m sixteen years old. I don’t want a destiny. I go to high school. Until you started following me around, my biggest problem was whether or not I’d studied for my chemistry test. Now I’m running from crazy witches. People are shooting at us. With bullets. And it’s all your fault.”
“It’s not my fault,” Ethan says. “It’s what has to be. It’s what you’re supposed to do.”
“And who put you in charge of me?”
“Well, I… you-“
“I, you, what? That’s the best you can do? You’re telling me that you’ve been around since horse-and-buggy days, checking out every likely girl who comes your way to see if she’s the one, and that’s the best you can do? I? You? Give me a break, Ethan. I mean, seriously.”
Dreaming Anastasia Series:
FTC Advisory: Sourcebooks graciously provided a copy of Dreaming Anastasia. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.
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