The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo is a gorgeous historical fantasy that filled my heart with so much joy; it has wonderful characters, incredibly original world-building & is based upon the Romanov sisters & the last few months of their lives. I adored this book & I need the sequel asap *grabby hands*
I was sent a reviewers e-copy of this book by Tor.com in return for an honest review.
This review will contain some mild spoilers.
This book contains sexual assault & exploitation.
The Five Daughters of the Moon is loosely based upon what happened to the Romanov family in the early 1900s (although there were 4 Romanov daughters, not 5, & one boy); the book follows the story of the 5 Daughters of the Moon & The Crescent Empire’s Empress & what happens when their people turn against them in the name of change. When I first heard about this book I was over-whelmed with excitement – as y’all should know by now I love history, & the story of Anastasia Nikolaevna & her family is something that fascinates me. In the past I have had mixed feelings about historical fantasy, but I adored this book so much & I cannot wait for the sequel (especially because it comes out on my birthday)!
At first, this book was a little confusing; it took me a while to get a feel for the world, but once I got into the story, I was totally addicted. The world-building in T5DOTM was so original & unique, & totally fascinating – to be honest, it’s a shame that we didn’t see more of what the girls’ lives were like before the events of this book took place because I’m hungry for more details! I really want to know more about the process of how the Empress marries the Moon & how this privilege is then passed on to the next in line to the throne, especially because the Moon goes from being their father to their husband. I would really love a prequel, even if it doesn’t have a dramatic story line, because I really want to be a part of court-life in the Crescent Empire!!
Something that I really appreciated about this book was the fact that the Five Daughters weren’t two-dimensional, instead each of them were really well developed & very different from one another! The eldest sister Celestia was wonderfully regal & everything a princess who is in-line for the thrown should be; I found her so enchanting & in my head she was absolutely stunning. I really liked how she took it upon herself to look after & protect her sisters when things got really bad for them, & I appreciated that she was willing to sacrifice herself to save them. From what I’ve read about the eldest Romanov daughter Olga, there are definitely similarities between the two.
The second daughter of the family was Elise – Elise was a bit quieter than her sisters & definitely had her fair share of secrets. I also think she could have been the most intelligent of the five (not including Celestia) & was certainly more daring than the other girls. She was also a free-spirit & I really liked that. I felt really sorry for her though, because of what happened with Captain Janlav & I’m really hoping things resolve themselves for her in the sequel!
Daughter number three is Sibilia; at first I really didn’t like Sibilia… to be honest I’m not that fond of her now, but she did grow on me throughout the book. From the very start of the book I saw Sibilia as bitchy & possibly a little jealous of her sisters – I also really didn’t like that she referred to Merile’s dogs as rats!!! Despite this, Sibilia’s character development is probably the most obvious out of the Five Daughters because, as their world is thrown upside-down, Sibilia does become more caring & warm toward her sisters (if not the dogs).
Merile was the fourth daughter, & although I loved how much she looked after Alina, I found her short-temper toward her older sisters a little frustrating. I also didn’t understand why she said one word of her sentence, followed by the whole sentence, for example “Smell. I could smell everyone present in the grand hall even with my eyes closed.“; at first I thought it might be a error on the eBook but it continued throughout so I’m wondering if she is supposed to have a form of Autism. I loved that she had dogs though; we need more pets in books!
The fifth & youngest sister, Alina was so sweet & I think Leena has done a great job of writing from the perspective of a 6-year-old. I loved the gift that Alina had & her innocence was so precious. Alina’s chapters were my favourite to read because she saw the world differently from her sisters. I definitely saw a connection between the real princess Anastasia & Alina, but also saw parts of the youngest Romanov child Alexei in her, in regards to the fact that she was unwell.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t show us much of the girls’ mother, the Empress, as the book is mostly based on the story of the Daughters, but what I did see of her painted her as a very strong woman. One of the girls mentions that they don’t get to spend much time with their mother due to her duties as Empress & that made me quite sad, but it also was more realistic & I like that Leena didn’t make the girls & their mother close just because they’re all female.
This review is ridiculously long, but that’s because I really did love this book – I’m so desperate for a print copy of it & I’ll definitely be asking for the sequel for my birthday a.k.a the UK release date! When I finished the book I definitely felt like I’d only read half of the story & for the first time in ages I found myself thinking “oh I can’t wait to read that tonight” when I had already finished the book. As excited as I am for the second half, I am also a little nervous as well – because, as this story is based on what happened in Russia in 1917, I know what the possible ending of the book could be & that makes me very sad!
If you find the story of Anastasia interesting or just love historical books or fantasy books in general then get your hands on a copy of The Five Daughters of the Moon asap!
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A huge thank you to Katharine at Tor.com for sending me a reviewers copy!