This series is all the rage in the school library at the moment, perhaps the relentless media coverage of the royal wedding has something to do with this. But, as I was just reading on a friend's blog we all know that being a princess is not easy. Especially if you are a Romanov and your people are turning against you.
Anastasia is told in diary form. In the beginning the entries are about teasing her sisters, the boring nature of her lessons and food. She is a carefree thirteen year old whose major concerns are the matching outfits she and her sisters wear. Of course this is all about to come crashing down with the start of World War One.
There are other problems in the royal family which also provide some interest in the first part of the book. The youngest Romanov, the long-awaited heir to the throne Alexei, has hemophilia. Like all boys, he is prone to accidents, but in his case those are dangerous and incredibly painful. Alexei's pain is the author's way of introducing Rasputin, or Father Grigori as he is known to the family. When the boy has an injury which causes him internal or external bleeding, Alexandra the Tsaritsa calls on Rasputin, and Alexei gets better. (For me every time Rasputin is mentioned I had the Boney M song stuck in my head.) His role in the downfall of the dynasty is certainly hinted at in Anastasia's diary; she never trusts him.
In the second half of the book, the mood certainly changes leading up to that fateful night. Anastasia is growing up and she becomes aware that not everyone loves her father as much as she does. As things become worse in Russia, the family stay close and their mood is ever hopeful. This makes the ending all the more poignant for the reader, especially I would imagine for those who don't know the history.
Carolyn Meyer includes some historical notes at the end of the narrative including a family tree and some commentary about the conspiracy theories surrounding Anastasia.
All in all this is a moving story of the end of the royal family. It could certainly act as a gateway text to other historical novel or learning more about history which can only be good.
Three hoots from five.
Happy tales,Barking Owl