genre: ya historical fiction
Nearly all of us have heard of Anasastia Romanov, that youngest daughter of the doomed Tsar Nicolas, ex-emporer of Russia. This tale tells their tragic story from a different point of view, that of her elder sister and dear companion Marie. It's told in the first person, as Marie writes the story of their exile in a diary. As they travel from their home to Siberia and again to another town, Marie's ordered and luxurious life slowly becomes more and more dangerous and unsettled as things like fresh air and good food suddenly seem like a luxurious dream. Marie is a young woman of 18, however, and even when life's circumstances change, our deepest desires do not - the need to feel loved, most particularly.
I was so looking forward to this book! The Romanov story is such a sad but very interesting one. I feel like this was a more mature view than I've read in other books, Marie is both older and more of a companion to her parents in this story. She's also more aware of herself as a woman and of her blossoming sexuality (the content isn't super graphic but there are a few scenes) as she spend so much time in the company of various guards and soldiers.
I wish I loved it. It has almost 5 stars on Amazon! I was expecting so much more :( I have three major complaints about this book: one, it is SO REPETITIVE. I am putting that in all caps because I cannot believe that an editor somewhere didn't notice how many times she says so many different things. I felt like the author was looking to make the story longer and it was very frustrating. I hate to be so critical but it was over the top. Two: at one point the writing switches from a diary (in which she speaks ambiguously to the world) to a sort of letter to a man but then it switches back, it was very confusing. Three: the ending is ridiculously graphic. Yes, we know they all died. It is so tragic, and I will say that by the end of this book, I did feel a lot of compassion for this family. But the author absolutely turns the book into a horror film at the very end, it caught me completely off-guard and was quite upsetting. Very bloody and gory for a book that was quite mild all the rest of the way through. I wish she'd been more compassionate at the end, somehow more respectful of the characters. We can know that they were brutally murdered without needing to know every single horrifying detail.
So, gah. I ended up disappointed.