This is a review by co-blogger Allison!
I’ll admit it. Whenever I hear about the Romanovs, the first thing I usually think of is Anastasia. And shortly after this initial thought I’m usually humming the familiar sounds of “dancing bears and painted wings and things I almost remember…” I can’t help it. I’m guilty! I think it was based on this awkwardness that when I spotted The Curse of the Romanovs by Staton Rabin in the library, I immediately picked it up. I do believe that part of me was hoping for another Anastasia type mystery story questioning her survival but, what I came out with was something much more than that.
The Curse of the Romanovs tells the story of Alexei Romanov, the heir to the Russian throne in 1916, and who suffers from dangerously painful episodes of hemophilia. These bouts can only usually be healed by a family friend, Father Grigory Rasputin as he teaches Alexei how to escape his pain on the river of ancestral blood which forms his ability to visit other times and places. Alexei trusts Rasputin with his life and refuses to believe any other accusations that have been spread about him within the villages of Russia. That is until he learns the true price which his mother has had to pay Rasputin for taking care of him, and after an attempted assignation plot goes array, he learns that Rasputin is no ordinary man, and daring to go against him as put Alexei in more danger than he could have ever imagined. Luckily, Alexei manages to escape death at the hands of Rasputin by traveling on the river of blood to the year 2010. There he meets his cousin, Varda Rosenberg, who is a budding scientist working on the cure for hemophilia, and who helps him discover what truly happened to his family during the Russian Revolution. This discovery sets the wheels in motion for a surprising series of events which forces the two new friends to time travel back to Russia to try and stop the Bolsheviks from slaughtering the Romanov family.
The Curse of the Romanovs definitely puts a new spin on the Romanov’s assassination. After reading this book, I know that I will no longer just think about Anastasia when I think of the Romanovs. Instead I will also think of her little brother, Alexei as well as the rest of the family. Through this book, we are able to see how much Alexei suffered because of his hemophilia and how ill prepared he was for the role he was given as the heir to the throne. Yet, we also see how seriously he took his role as the future Tsar, and as the ‘protector’ of his family. As the only male child within his family, the duty of protection was placed upon his shoulders early in his life, even with his disease, and this is something he takes very seriously. It is the reason why he is so willing to risk his life and travel back in time in an attempt to save his family. Even though his family spent so much time protecting him that he wasn’t exactly sure what exactly he was supposed to do within society, he knew that he would risk it all for the opportunity to be with them again. To me, this made him very admirable, and I was glad to have the opportunity to learn more about him even if all the events within the story may not necessarily have been entirely true.
It is very obvious that Staton Rabin did her research before writing this book by all the historical notes at the end of the book. These historical notes add a new perspective on the story and allow the reader to see the liberties that the author took with this history in order to tell the story that she wanted to be able to share. For example, Alexei really did have hemophilia however; time travel is obviously just a really cool part of the plot of the novel. Overall, The Curse of the Romanovs is a truly unique and interesting piece of work, and I’m so glad I spotted it on the shelf at my local library and decided to give it a try. Maybe my review will help you do the same!
Disclosure: Borrowed from local library