Review: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Originally read/reviewed in September 2013

Having just finished The Bronze Horseman this afternoon, I am feeling utterly shattered and unsure I can write a coherent review, but want to write while everything is still fresh.

I don't often resort to hyperbole, but I can honestly say this has instantly become my favorite book ever. I was moved beyond measure, drawn into the lives of the characters, and emotionally invested as with no other book. Roughly two hours after finishing the book I am still sitting here slightly shell shocked and with an aching heart for Tatiana and Alexander as if they truly existed and their story was, in fact, real.

The Bronze Horseman had much going for it before I ever opened the cover. Russian history? Check. An epic love story? Check. A gripping story with characters that leap from the page? Check, check. Paullina Simons tells a tale that starts slowly, building a relationship between Tatiana and Alexander that is seemingly impossible with every odd stacked against them. But despite it all, their love flourishes and then ignites amidst the horror and destruction of WW II and the siege of Leningrad.

Tatiana + Alexander = the greatest hero and heroine I've encountered. Theirs truly is an epic love story. The intensity of their love... the sacrifices they made for one another... it is beyond compare. The obstacles they endured, the hardships, the separations, the secrets and deceptions... it broke my heart time and time again.

The character growth in Tatiana is appropriate and amazing. From a shy and naive 17 year old girl to a young woman who has seen and endured more than most will in a lifetime. Yet through it all, her strength, optimism, stubborn nature, and her intense and selfless love for Alexander sees her through.

And Alexander... this man, oh this man. He is a young man but one who has already experienced much and grown up early. The burdens he bears, the responsibilities he takes on, the weight on his shoulders, often seemed crushing. But he did it all willingly and never complained. His every thought, every action, was for the safety and protection of Tatiana. I'm not sure I've ever encountered a more honorable character than Alexander Belov. His love for Tania is pure and unselfish and passionate.

Simply put, I loved everything about this book. And at 894 pages I was nowhere near ready for it to end. This is one that will stay with me and, while I would love to reach over and pick up the next book in this incredible saga, I think I may need a day or two to recuperate and pull myself back together.

The Bronze Horseman is exquisite and heart-wrenching and sweet and tragic and joyful and devastating and achingly beautiful.

Sadly, I'm left knowing nothing I write, no amount of breathless gushing, will do this book justice. But, on the plus side, having finished this extraordinary novel today, my birthday, I feel as though I've been given a remarkable gift that I will not forget.

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