Book Reviews

Review: “Anastasia’s Secret,” Susanne Dunlap

March 4, 2011
Review: “Anastasia’s Secret,” Susanne DunlapAnastasia's Secretby Susanne Dunlap
Series: Standalone
Published by Bloomsbury on March, 2010
Genres: Historical, Real Events
Book Depository

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 Sasha, 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?

Inspired by the mysteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap’s new novel is a haunting vision of the life-and love story-of Russia’s last princess.

I have been wanting to read Anastasia’s Secret ever since I found out about it! I have been interested in the last Romanov family for quite some time and this seemed to be the perfect thing to quench my appetite! This story doesn’t disappoint! It educates as well as intrigues, satisfying curiosity and managing to draw you close to real figures that lived almost 100 years ago.

I find this story so heartbreaking. There are certain aspects of history that I’m quite interested in – ones of a more personal nature than ‘big events’ in general. Stories like that of Anne Frank hold a special place in my heart, as well as the Titanic disaster. The tragedy of the Romanov family is the other.

I think everyone knows at least a little about the fable of Anastasia and her ‘escape’, but I don’t think a lot have really looked into it and found out why and how they died. It’s once you start investigating that you find your interest growing. It would be such a shame to let this aspect of history – not just for the Russian people – go forgotten. That’s why I love the fact that so many YA authors are bringing these themes – often with the ‘real people’ as their characters – into their published stories.

It not only serves as a way to be reminded of our World history, but also as a way for these people not to be forgotten.

Moving on to this story in particular, it was such an interesting read. I was far from an expert on the Romanov family, but I knew most of their background, their exile, their deaths and had seen many pictures. It wasn’t until I started on this novel – which is quite accurate to history – that I realized just how much I didn’t know. Of course, familiar images and tales of the Romanov’s last days weave themselves into the pages; such as the story of the Tsar being pushed off his bicycle by soldiers and ridiculed, but other snippets and trivia are also included that fleshes out this story so much more.

While I did enjoy the romance between Anastasia and Sasha, it was not my favourite part of the story. I didn’t read this book for the romance, rather the chance to step inside the time and family and experience it through their eyes. Much like Annexed by Sharon Dogar (which chronicles life in the annex with Anne Frank through the eyes of Peter Van Pels) I felt a great attachment to the personas Susanne was able to create for the girls and the rest of the family. I now feel much more educated on their story and what they went through.

I highly urge you to pick this one up if you’re at all interested in this historical story. While I have other Anastasia-focused stories to read; Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble as well as The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller, which comes out later this year, I highly doubt they’re going to rise above Anastasia’s Secret!

Recommended to: Highly recommended to people interested in the Romanov family! Even if you don’t know much, you’ll enjoy it as well as learn much in the process!

About Susanne Dunlap

Susanne Dunlap is a graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, New York and Northampton, MA. She now divides her time between Brooklyn and Northampton, has two grown daughters, two granddaughters, and is an avid cyclist and dog lover.


  • Reply Hannah March 6, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Sounds wonderful. Excellent review. I can’t wait to pick it up. Anastasia has always been somewhat of a romantic mystery in my mind, and I love that some authors are picking up the story for some great books. I have Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble, but haven’t read it yet. Will definitely be adding this to my TBR list!

    • Reply Brittany March 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      Me, too! I completely agree. It’s very interesting, yet tragic! I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply Cialina March 6, 2011 at 3:34 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one!!!!! I’ll have to make sure I bump it up my list and get to it sooner than expected. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Reply Brittany March 6, 2011 at 3:39 am

      It was fantastic! If it had been about another aspect of history I didn’t enjoy as much I think I would’ve gotten bored, but since I love the Romanov story so much, I found it a great read! I hope you feel the same!

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