Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Since when did YA reads hit my radar?  Since books like this – with a hint of mystery, fantasy, and the adrenaline of youth all rolled into one…

~ Sheila

—Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble—

What would you do if your nightmare turned out to be more than

just a dream—and the only way to stop it was to believe the impossible?

dreamingAnastasia Romanov knows she should be dead; she watched her family fall in a hail of gunfire. Instead, something, or someone, saved her. Trapped and scared in a magical hut with a witch who may be friend or foe, she begins to come to grips with the truth about her situation: that some fates are WORSE than death.

In her dreams, sixteen year old Anne Michaelson is somewhere else. She is someone else. The dreams feel as real as her waking life and they terrify her. This is not good for her social life! Aside from that, Anne thinks her life is pretty ordinary – until she runs into handsome, mysterious, and (okay) annoying Ethan on her way to chemistry class. Now Anne has powers she doesn’t understand, a history-altering mission she doesn’t want, and a growing attraction to a blue-eyed stranger that seems to be stalking her! And when Ethan realizes that Anne is the girl he’s been searching for, things start to get a little surreal! Despite her skepticism and reluctance, Anne quickly realizes that you don’t need to be imprisoned to be trapped! Stir in the doomed Duchess Anastasia, who is not quite as dead as the history books say, and the Baba Yaga, a legendary witch from Russian folklore, and you’ve got Dreaming Anastasia by debut novelist Joy Preble.

Joy Preble’s experience with Russian legends developed through her crazy maternal grandmother, who had been one of joy prebleTWENTY children! The story goes that her grandmother’s family didn’t even notice when she ran off to America at sixteen, married badly, raised four children on her own and was the least grandmotherly of grandmothers a girl could ever hope for (despite her amusing and insane tales of the Bolsheviks and tsars). No warm and fuzzies there, only admonitions for Joy to eat her vegetables so she would be strong enough to survive the impending pogroms!

My Thoughts: This book was a wonderful mix for me – not only as a YA read – but to me it dabbled in so much more.  There is history to this book with Baba Yaga and Anastasia Romanov.  There is the taste of fantasy and the essence of mystery…. basically it had a lot of my favorite genre’s all roled up into one neat little binding.

I have to say I loved the story line based around Baba Yaga (I love folklore!)

Baba Yaga is a witch-like character in Slavic folklore. She flies around on a giant mortar, kidnaps (and presumably eats) small children,baba yagaand lives in a house which stands on chicken feet. In most Slavic folk tales, she is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters in other mythological folk stories have been known to seek her out for her wisdom, and she has been known on occasion to offer guidance to lost souls, although this is seen as rare.

Strong characters, I found I really enjoyed the connections between Ethan and Anne.  Tess was great comic relief and reminded me a lot of my own best friend when I was that age….

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I started it last weekend during the big 150 mile bike ride and read it during breaks and at night.  For me this was a book I could not, and didn’t want to, put down.

Baba Yaga Hut - Stockholm, Sweden
Baba Yaga Hut - Stockholm, Sweden
Baba Yaga Hut in Kukoboi
Baba Yaga Hut in Kukoboi

This book was sent to me from Sourcebooks

I would rate this a PG13 rating for some language and sexual content

My Amazon Review

26 thoughts on “Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

  1. Oh, now I am really intrigued. There seem to be parallels between Joy’s history and my grandmother’s…who, incidentally, emigrated from Sweden at a young age. And she had a “Slavic” heritage!

    She certainly had some stories, some of which I have borrowed for characters in my books.

    I’m putting this book on my wish list!

  2. Excellent review — Thanks! YA books
    I didn’t know too much about the Romanovs — but found the book The Kitchen Boy fascinating.

    YA books are great for content . . .

  3. You know what I like about you…you are always reading something completely different from me and turning me on to new books.

    Know what I don’t like…you are making my TBR stack look like yours. LOL

  4. Awesome! I’ve heard so much great stuff about this book… And if anyone isn’t drawn to the mystery of Anastasia Romanov, they should check if they have pulse! It seems like such a fabulous read.

  5. I’m really looking forward to reading this, what a nice review–always like a novel that’s hard to put down! And I heartily admit to reading many YA books–there are some fantastic ones out there! Did you ever read The Kitchen Boy by fellow Minnesotan Robert Alexander? Another unusual take on the Romanov story.

  6. I know, sometimes I get on a kick, when I can’t decide what to read, and just stick with MN authors. We are so lucky here in MN because there is a wealth of authors and books to choose from, all ages– kids on up!

    1. This is true – did you see there is a thing in the cities in a couple weeks with authors and publishers? Life is too crazy at this point for me to make it but hopefully someday soon I can start attending.

  7. In reading this review I couldn’t help but think on the Anastasia, a Russian kings daughter, whos family was killed and and she was thought to be dead with them. She tried very hard to convince everyone who she was but noone believed her. She ended up here in America, I think. My history is very, very rusty so some of the detail could be off. But This story sounds as though it could have a twist of that story to it.

      1. I don’t know why but I was always taken with Anastasia’s story. When ever the movie was on tv I would have to watch it. I think I like the idea with a little magic here in this book.

        I am going to add this to my list. I think I would like it.


  8. This sounds like a lovely and extremely interesting book. I’ve always loved YA fiction even as I grow older – there’s something about jumping into a good YA book that feels like going home, like slipping back into my youth.

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