Book review: The Witches of St Petersburg

17 Apr 2019 / 10:24 H.

INSPIRED by real characters, this historical fiction tells the fascinating story of two princesses in the Romanov court who practised black magic, befriended the Tsarina, and then invited the infamous Russian monk, Rasputin, into their lives.

By their actions, they forever changed the course of their lives and also that of Russia’s history.

As daughters of the impoverished King of Montenegro, Militza and Stana must fulfil their duties to their father – by leaving their home for St Petersburg to be married into the Romanov court.

Their new alliances with the Russian nobility will help secure financial aid that their native country badly needs.

Unfortunately, in their new surroundings, Militza and Stana feel like outcasts, as the aristocracy shuns them for their provincial ways and also for dabbling in the occult.

Undeterred, they both resolve to expand their sphere of influence with the lonely and depressed Tsarina Alexandra, who, as an Anglo-German, is also considered an outsider and is not fully accepted by members of the court.

After numerous failed attempts to give birth to a son and heir, the Tsarina is desperate and depressed, and decides to place her faith in the sisters’ expertise with black magic.

Promising the Tsarina that they will be able to secure an heir for the Russian dynasty, Militza and Stana hold frequent séances and experiment with dark rituals and spells.

The closer they are to the Tsarina and the royal family, the more powerful they become.

But when the sisters invoke a spiritual shaman who goes by the name of Rasputin, the die is cast.

For they have not only irrevocably sealed their own fates but also that of Russia itself.

Brimming with black magic, sex and intrigue,​The Witches of St Petersburg​is an exciting historical fiction novel filled with intimate historical details from the Romanov era. An interesting read.

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