I have a long-standing love for reading/learning about Russia, including the Russian Revolution. Therefore I was arguably excited to get my hands on this novel and dive into the world of early 1900s Russia. Unfortunately, the book failed on pretty much every level.
First of all, the main character is unlikable and irritating. She failed to have an overall strength of character and maturity that I like in my protagonists. Honestly I may have been able to accept more of the downfalls of the book if this
element had been stronger. Natalya continually makes idiotic choices, including only keeping the magical egg a secret for a whopping twenty pages. I knew things were not going to go well when that is how long she lasted with such a significant tidbit.
Part of the problem I had with the MC was her supposedly undying love for Alexei Romanov. The author appeared to have a nearly obsessive need to talk about the love between Natalya and Alexei, which rather added to the inauthentic feel of it. The "love" was all "tell" and no "show". Also, a MAJOR issue I had with believing the love affair between the two was the fact (yes, FACT) that Alexei was killed was he was only thirteen. THIRTEEN. This was a strange decision for a lead love interest in my opinion, to change the age of a poor child that was murdered during the Russian Revolution to make him a leading male character. Also, the new love interest was predictable and therefore made the constant reminders of Natalya's love for Alexei all the more superfluous.
The magical element with the egg was a major issue for me. Magic and historical fiction just do not work for me. It never fails that bringing in a magical/fantasy element undermines the historical integrity and quite honestly, history is fully interesting on its own. You do not need magical eggs to have a magical story. The Russian Revolution was completely overshadowed by this damn egg. In addition, I never felt as though there was a solid foundation for the setting or the drama/horror of the revolution overall. If you are going to include a magical egg, you need to have a very strong foundation for the historical setting.
Overall I must say that I find Russian authors and those having a great deal of study in the realm of Russia have the market cornered for good Russian novels. This one just failed to inspire, failed to bring life to Russia or the Russian Revolution and used historical figures in an unsatisfactory way.