By Dora Levy Mossanen
Sourcebooks, $14.99, 340 pages
The tragic history of the Romanovs holds fascination for many a reader. Unfortunately, the dramatic promise of the subject is not carried out in this book. There is plenty of drama in The Last Romanov but it is confusing with significantly more attention paid to descriptions and adjectives than to character and plot. All the historical characters appear and are fully fleshed out in detail, which is not a huge feat considering how much information there is available, but those relating to the heroine, Darya, come and go with very little explanation. Her parents are dispatched in a paragraph and Darya’s guide from the spirit world flits in and out of the story to an alarming degree even for a ghost.
This book tries too hard to create suspense rather than letting it flow from events. At a late stage, the plot detours to one of Darya’s previous lives as a Jewish queen (who may or may not be the spirit guide) breaking the natural tension in the plot. The premise that Prince Alexei survived the 1918 massacre of his family is enough to engage most readers. Overly embellished prose and confusing characters produces only apathy.