Genre: YA Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Challenges: Clear Off Your Shelves
Source: purchased new
The reason I added this book to my TBR list was this review at Dolce Bellezza. I’ve been fascinated with the Romanov Dynasty and Imperial Russia ever since I read Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie when I was in High School. When Bellezza talked about loving this book and said that “it has to do with Russia, Tzar Nicholas and his wife, Alexei, Anastasia and Rasputin to be specific”. I knew then and there that I had to get this book. None of my libraries had a copy, so off to the bookstore I went.
The story is told from the viewpoints of three characters. Anastasia Romanov remembers the beginning of the slaughter of her family in the basement, but is now trapped in a cabin with a witch. Anne Michaelson is a 16 year old Chicago high school student who has recurring and disturbing dreams in which she seems to be seeing the assassination of the Romanov family and Anastasia’s present circumstances through Anastasia’s eyes. Ethan is a handsome young man who keeps showing up in the same places as Anne. He claims to know the meaning of Anne’s dreams, but when he explains it just doesn’t seem possible. But when Anne finds herself with Ethan and running for their lives, it must be real. Right?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in just a few sittings. Preble does a great job of combining a thriller/suspense story in present day Chicago with a bit of historical fiction/speculation. What ties it all together is a blend of mysticism, magic and folklore. It all manages to work together in an interesting tale that pays homage to all the legends that Anastasia survived the slaughter of her family yet wraps it in a tale of magic that makes for great entertainment and a suspenseful story to the very end.
The three main characters are well written and true to their time and place. The dialog feels genuine. Anastasia’s letters to her family interspersed in the story are a great way of telling her story but could have been printed in a more readable font. I liked Anne and her best friend Tess. They’re smart kids, who come across as real present day teenagers. Anne is intelligent, with a sharp wit that had me giggling a couple of times.