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Russian Historical Fantasy | Book Review: Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

Told as a magical historical fantasy, Tsarina is a romantic journey through time.

Book Review: Book Review: Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

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tsarina j nelle patrick book review

Title & Author: Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – Historical Fiction

Release Date: February 27, 2014

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Razorbill

How I Got the Book: ARC From Publisher


“Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia’s Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it’s not in the right hands.”

Romantic Russia

I love books set in Russia, especially when it’s historical. There’s something about the old world-ness of the country that makes me dream of fur-topped hats and snow flurries and royalty that goes back generations.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what I got in Tsarina. It’s historical fiction with some fantasy elements. And let me tell you, I felt like I was in the Red revolution.

The story takes place right around the greatest time of Russian political turmoil, and that is clearly reflected in the book. That being said, Tsarina wasn’t like high fantasies that include a lot of plotting and planning and maneuvering.

It was political without focusing on strategy, if that makes sense. It focused more on country loyalty and shifting social statuses than war games. After Red Rising, this is a much needed breath of fresh air.

Fierce & Fiesty

For those who didn’t know, J. Nelle Patrick is the pen name for Jackson Pearce, author of numerous fairytale retellings like Sisters Red and Sweetly.

Although I haven’t read her other works, I definitely saw the fairytale quality in Tsarina in subtle moments. And it totally works.

I really identified with Natalya. Event though she’s born to privilege, she’s a relatable character. Wealth and status is all she’s ever known. She doesn’t look down on the Reds, she simply doesn’t understand their motivations or what their lives have been like.

I liked that she so fiercely fought for Russia and showed true courage in the face of impossible odds. Her spunk and determinedness (read: stubbornness) made her both respectable and endearing.


During the romantic yet tumultuous end of the Romanov’s rule, J. Nelle Patrick imagined magic and power and rebellion and loyalty. Tsarina is a book to escape to and imagine the true and imagined history of Russia during the early 1900s – it’s a heart-breakingly beautiful story.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Lisa Schensted

    I hadn’t heard of this one yet! Sounds fabulous. Because I mean really, who can ever read enough Russian fantasy books? NOT ME.