The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published on: April 3, 2012
Page Count: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Paperback and eBook
Giveaway: In honor of what would be the 111th birthday of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov of Russia today, June 18th, Sourcebooks is graciously offering a free copy of The Last Romanov to one lucky reader in the US or Canada. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post by 11:59pm EST on Friday, June 22nd. I’ll draw the winner on the 233rd. Good luck!
Summary from the Publisher
In a time of Rasputin’s magic and Romanov mystery, a young girs finds herself at the heart of the royal family.
She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majestry. Yet, decades later, her time spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for those murderous events that changed everything?
If only she can find the heir, maybe she can put together the broken pieces of her own past-maybe she can hold on to the love she found. Bursting to life with the rich and glorious marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale of second chances and royal blood.
From the moment of Darya’s birth, she is marked as special by her opal eye. This eye, which is golden and gives her the appearance of being a wise soul, sets Darya apart. The Empress Alexandra believes that she has special healing powers, especially after she informs the Empress that she is carrying the future heir. In many ways, Darya is truly different. She does have the ability to sense things. This is enhanced through the presence of ambergris. This touch to her and the fact that she doesn’t seem to age naturally give The Last Romanov a fantastical feel. At the beginning of the novel, it was even somewhat overwhelming when her home is full of butterflies. I was concerned that this would keep me from engaging fully with the novel, but I found that it ultimately worked well.
Through Darya’s experiences, we glimpse palace life during Nicholas II’s reign up close. There was great political tension. Without a secure succession, the Tsar felt that his reign would be in jeopardy. This put a great deal of stress on Darya to cure the tsarevich, something she didn’t believe she could do. Unfortunately, the Tsar and his policies were in many ways more damning. I particularly enjoyed how the author wove in the story of the Artist’s Salon to highlight this. As if the health of the tsarevich wasn’t enough weight on Darya’s shoulders, the Artists Salon became her responsibility and it brought all of the most sensitive religious and political minefields inside the palace. Darya wasn’t even aware that some of these triggers existed until she set them off. She had no one of experience to help guide her. Darya’s tenuous place in the family and the ever increasing danger and intrigue made for a great read.
2012 has been the year of Russian fiction for me. It is as if those novels have a special glow to them. I a’m loving getting lost in Russian, whether it be through historical fiction like The Winter Palace and Enchantments or in contemporary fiction like A Partial History of Lost Causes. The Last Romanov was a great addition. Dora Levy Mossanen brings this story of a royal whirlwind and its emotional aftermath to life. Once I settled into the more mystical aspects of the novel, I couldn’t put the book down. Although I believe Darya understood on some level that too much had been expected of her at the time of the fall and that she was not responsible, she could not help but feel guilty for surviving. This made her life after the assassinations as interesting as her youth. It was well written and, through the use of the fantastical, it made me look at the Romanov family and its destruction in another light. If you like your historical fiction with a little something different, I recommend The Last Romanov.