Monday, November 2, 2009

Dreaming Anastasia - Joy Preble

Title: Dreaming Anastasia
Author: Joy Preble
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009 (Paperback)
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Started: October 28, 2009
Finished: November 1, 2009

From the publisher:
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…

This review might be a tad biased simply because I LOVE the history about the Romanovs and Anastasia in particular. I did a massive project on the political downfall of the Romanovs in Grade 10 English class, and even dressed up as Anastasia for the presentation...that's dedication! Plus, my husband and I have already decided that if we have a daughter her name will be Anastasia (which means I'll be buying a copy of this and putting it away for a child that's not even born yet). So yes, you could say that in our household, we like our Russian history.

Luckily for me, this book has an engaging story and likable characters to go along with my favourite subject matter. It's an interesting mix of historical fiction and fantasy, Russian monarchy meets random magical elements like charging a cell phone battery using your mind! The author really did her research, all the historical facts in the book are accurate, right down to the name of Anastasia's dog.

The story changes narration from Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia. The author sets it up such that the narration only switches between chapters, and the heading of the chapter tells you who's speaking. I really like it when authors do this in their books, provided they do it right, because it breaks up the monotony of one first person narrator and lets readers see things from multiple perspectives. This is especially important in this book since things are happening in Anastasia's world at the same time as Anne and Ethan's.

The story is quite engrossing, events are well paced and flow nicely within the plot. There are inserted letters written from Anastasia to various members of her family, and even these are placed perfectly within the story and add just the right tidbits of information at the right time.

I think the only downside of the book was the font choice of Anastasia's letters to her family. They are written in a cursive script, which really makes the letters stand apart from the rest of the text, but makes them difficult to read at time.

If you're in the mood for an entertaining story that actually manages to mix historical fiction and fantasy together, read this!

Thoughts on the cover:
I think the whole cover is nicely put together. The slightly warped white font surrounded by the graphic, set against blue and black colours and the wispy smoke really draw your attention. You have Ethan's image faded in the left background, and I love that they accented the clarity of his blue eyes. I'm assuming the girl lying down at the bottom is supposed to be Anastasia based on her dress and eye colour, but whoever she is, I like how she's placed.

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