- Title: The Kitchen Boy; A Novel of the Last Tsar
- Author: Robert Alexander
- Publisher: Viking, 2003
- Pages: 229
- ISBN: 067003178x
So, this book has been on my radar ever since reading Jenn’s review of it a while ago. While I knew absolutely nothing about the Romanovs before this, I do really like novels set in Russia, so I knew I had to give it a try. And I was lucky enough to find a copy of this book at the big used book sale in January, in like-new condition! And now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it, and it was fantastic!
This story is about the murder of the royal Romanovs in 1918. Nikolai and Aleksandra Romanov, their five children, and some household servants were shot to death by the Bolsheviks, but there are no eye witnesses to what happened that horrible night, and no way to confirm or deny the rumors that some of the children actually survived. Until now. Misha, a wealthy American, reveals that he is actually Leonka, the kitchen boy that worked in the Romanov household during those late days, and he claims to have seen exactly what happened that night.
WOW, this was a powerful book. You couldn’t help but grow to care for the Romanov family, and grow upset at their being held hostage. Leonka is a great pair of eyes to see all of this through – Leonka is telling this as an older man, so he’s able to interject his feelings while telling his story, and my heart definitely broke a little for him. And while I’m not an expert on literature set in Russia, I believe the author did a fabulous job capturing the Russian emotion and spirit. Also, there are many Russian words and phrases sprinkled throughout the story, but the author ALWAYS immediately says what it means. I hate when there’s foreign languages in a book but no English explanation, so major props to the author there. Man I want to learn Russian…
The last third of the book was INTENSE. There was so much tension and desperation, and then came the horrible execution scene… I teared up. It was really brutal and horrible. And then there’s this HUGE unexpected twist at the end and I totally did NOT see that coming. I absolutely devoured this book, I read it in practically one sitting.
Anyways, this was a really great historical fiction novel and I’m looking forward to reading Robert Alexander’s other books. And I really want to go read some non-fiction about the Romanovs too, because their story is tragic but absolutely fascinating.
Sarah Says: 5 stars