Daughters of a Dead Empire

Roaring Brook. Feb. 2022. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250755537.
Gr 10 Up–An Anastasia Romanov reimagining: Russia, 1918. Tsar Nicholas is dead, and there is a civil war between the royalist White Army and the Bolshevik Communists. Anna, a bourgeois girl, escapes a massacre that killed her entire family. Desperate, she offers a diamond to communist peasant girl, Evgenia, in exchange for help. Despite knowing that Anna is bourgeois, Evgenia is desperate for money to help her ill brother. As the Bolsheviks hunt Anna, Evgenia realizes that despite being a Communist, she is also now seen as the enemy. The two young women must work together to stay alive, and there is danger from all sides. O’Neil provides an unflinching look at the brutal realities of the Russian civil war through the complexity of the two main characters. By changing perspectives, the author creates two strong narrative voices in Anna and Evgenia that allows readers to see the strongly rooted beliefs in both sides of the Russian civil war, and how these beliefs were shaken by atrocities committed during it. Even with the changing perspectives, the plot is fast-paced and compelling, although there are a few scenes of graphic violence near the end. An excellent option for fans of historical fiction.
VERDICT Perfect for readers who enjoy Monica Hesse and Elizabeth Wein.

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