SPOILER: The Russian Czar and his family along with a cook, maid, doctor, and another helper all die. But, this is all in history, and we already knew this happened.
Something I didn’t mention in the original post, this is a work of narrative fiction. While there are some parts that are true, the central theme of the kitchen boy living on to tell his story was fiction. Unless you are an expert on the Bolshevik Revolution, you probably wouldn’t know enough details to realize that not all of this was true (The author notes at the end that all indented parts in the book were true). It was written well and it made me want to believe that all the pieces fit. This could be a tale knit together so well that it makes you think twice about the truth of the demise of the Rominov family in 1918.
I had to look up some facts after I read the story:
-The Rominov family was held in Serbia during the revolution by the Communists
-There were personal servants along with the family in exile (including a kitchen boy, Leonka)
-Two members of the Rominov family were thought to have escaped the mass killing – Alexei and Maria
– From 1918 until they found the mass grave in 1998, many believed at least one of the two missing had made it out alive
-DNA testing in 1998 proved that the mass burial included all family members thought to be missing
As the narrator (Mishka/Leonka) tells his story to his granddaughter, Katya, he alludes to secrets he has kept from her and steers the reader (and Katya) to believe certain things about him and his deceased wife as far as their involvement to the Rominov Czar’s family. To say the story has a twist at the end (Epilogue) would be a vast understatement. Without reading the Epilogue, I would have really missed a lot. (Always read the Epilogue!) The ending is tied together. It all made sense. Everyone likes a story with a twist, and this one I could hardly see coming. I think the author did an excellent job blending his facts with fiction to develop a sharp-twisting ride for the reader.
Final thoughts: If you like historic mysteries, or you like feeling like a fly on a wall to historic events, this was a nice read. It’s pretty short at just over 200 pages, even so, at times it felt pretty slow and repetitive through out the book. What really saved it for me was the final twist. I liked how it ended, and I did my best not to completely spoil it here.
Rating: ******* 7/10