(Cover picture courtesy of Cindy’s Love of Books.)
Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophia will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia at any cost. Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophia has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family and herself Sophia vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans. Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophia will need to decide how much she s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be. In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Let me make two things very, very clear right off the bat:
1. Yes, this novel is about Catherine the Great of Russia.
2. No, this is not historically accurate and nor was it meant to be.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way I think a bit of an explanation is in order. This is about Catherine the Great’s younger years before she became empress of all Russia. It’s about her struggles acclimatizing to the Russian court and trying to win the love of Peter, the future emperor. As Sherry Ficklin mentions in the dedication as well as the historical note, while she really does stay true to the spirit of the times this was not meant to be historically accurate. And that’s okay because it really does capture the zeitgeist in Russia at the time and paints a fascinating picture of how Catherine the Great became, well, ‘the Great’.
The thing that I really appreciated about Queen of Someday was not only Ficklin’s honesty about accuracy and such but also her characters. Catherine’s husband Peter is a hotly debated ruler in Russian history and I like how the portrayal of him in the book makes sense if you look at his later life before Catherine’s coup. He’s jealous and toys with women and men alike, reveling in his power over not only their emotions but their very lives. Catherine is at first the naive young Sophie trying to find a little bit of happiness in a marriage that’s all but being forced upon her. As she grows into her role as future empress and learns what real love is like, she’s faced with some horrific decisions that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. Sherry Ficklin certainly knows how to present such a quick change from naive young girl to cynical empress very well.
The plot is far from fast-paced by most people’s reckonings but it is fascinating. There are real events in Russian history going on throughout the story and Ficklin stayed true to most of the broader strokes of Catherine’s early years. It’s mostly a character-driven story and that’s something that I also appreciated about Queen of Someday. This is only the first installment in the Stolen Empire series and I really can’t wait for the rest of Catherine’s story. It’s just a shame that this book doesn’t actually release until October for the general public! Thank goodness for pre-ordering is all I can say because I really do have to recommend it to people who love a good read.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
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