Many of us who are not quite teenagers, but still reading YA, grew up watching, loving, and obsessing over the 1997 Don Bluth movie “Anastasia.” The clothes, the music, the spunky dog. The snarky banter between the hero and the heroine is every fangirl’s dream, so of course our tiny hearts fell for this movie hard.
I spent years of my life thinking the movie was (loosely) based on true events and Anastasia had survived. When I learned she didn’t, I spent a long time trying to figure out a way she could have without us knowing. That movie sparked a years long fascination with the Russian Revolution and I’ve collected quite a variety of books on the Romanovs, trying to understand just how it all went wrong and how maybe one of those kids survived. The glitz, the glamour, the rapid downfall – you don’t really need fiction to make that time in Russia fantastical.
Yet I come back to that story of “Anastasia” all the time. It remains one of my favorite movies and captures a little piece of me every time I watch it. So it was kind of inevitable for several YA authors to write books about Anastasia and the time period, trying to recapture that magic Don Bluth gave us and exploring Russian folklore.
Here’s a list of Romanov YA for Anastasia fans.
Anastasia’s Secret by Suzanne Dunlap
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Release date: March 2 2010
For Anastasia Romanov, life as the privileged daughter of Russia’s last tsar is about to be torn apart by the bloodshed of revolution. Ousted from the imperial palace when the Bolsheviks seize control of the government, Anastasia and her family are exiled to Siberia. But even while the rebels debate the family’s future with agonizing slowness and the threat to their lives grows more menacing, romance quietly blooms between Anastasia and a sympathetic young guard she has known since childhood. But will the strength of their love be enough to save Anastasia from a violent death?
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
Release date: June 14 2011
Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand–first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together–sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht. But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia. As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.
The Tsarina’s Daughter by Carolly Erickson
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release date: September 20 2008
It is 1989 and Daria Gradov is an elderly grandmother living in the rural West. What neighbors and even her children don’t know, however, is that she is not who she claims to be—the widow of a Russian immigrant of modest means. In actuality she began her life as the Grand Duchess Tatiana. Tania is one of four daughters, and the birth of her younger brother Alexei is both a blessing and a curse. When he is diagnosed with hemophilia and the key to his survival lies in the mysterious power of the illiterate monk Rasputin, it is merely an omen of much worse things to come. Soon war breaks out and revolution sweeps the family from power and into claustrophobic imprisonment in Siberia. Into Tania’s world comes a young soldier whose life she helps to save and who becomes her partner in daring plans to rescue the imperial family from certain death.
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Release date: September 1, 2009
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. 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.
Rubies in the Snow by Kate Hubbard
Publisher: Short Books
Release date: January 11 2007
Cast your mind back, to the early years of the 20th century. To Russia. A country of extremes. Of unimaginable wealth and unspeakable poverty. Of excess and hunger, culture and cruelty. A country ruled for nearly 300 years by one family, long accustomed to power and privilege – the Romanovs. And born into that family is a girl, an ordinary sort of girl in many respects, but one swept up by extraordinary circumstances: her name is Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov, the last Grand Duchess, and this is her diary.
The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 2 2009
Nadya is a mischievous kitchen girl in a Russian tavern. Having nearly drowned in the Iset River during the turmoil of the Revolution, she has no memory of her past and longs for the life she cannot remember. Then two young men arrive at the tavern and announce that Nadya’s long-lost grandmother has sent them to find her. Yearning for family and friendship, she agrees to accompany them to Paris for the joyful reunion. Nadya eagerly embarks on her journey, never dreaming it will be one of laughter, love…and betrayal.
The Curse of the Romanovs by Staton Rabin
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: June 10 2007
It¹s 1916, the struggling Russian people are tired of war and are blaming their rulers for it, and some are secretly plotting to murder the young heir and his family. But nobody outside the palace knows that Alexei suffers from a terrible bleeding disease, hemophilia, which threatens to finish him off even before the family¹s enemies can. The only person able to help Alexei is the evil and powerful religious mystic Rasputin — and now Rasputin is trying to kill him too! Desperate, Alexei flees through time to New York City in 2010, using a method taught to him by the mad monk himself.
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
Release date: February 27 2014
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 in the wrong hands.
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release date: February 2 2009
Calder is a Fetch, a death escort, the first of his kind. The first to fall in love with a mortal girl. But when he climbs backwards out of that Death Scene, into the chaos of the Russian Revolution, he tears a wound in the ghost realm, where the spirits begin a revolution of their own.
Which Romanov YA novel is your favorite? Sound off in the comments below!