Reviewed by Alyssa Katanic

The Last Romanov, by Dora Levy Mossanen, is a historical fiction novel exploring the Imperial Russian Romanov family and the mystery that still surrounds their lives and executions. The Romanovs have captured the imaginations of many writers through the years, and Mossanen brings us a new perspective through the fictional character of Darya, the nurse (and holistic healer) of the youngest Romanov and heir to the throne, Alexei, a hemophiliac.

Mossanen’s take on the Romanov story falls under the literary description of magical realist fiction where a realistic story is woven with elements of magic and, often, the supernatural. When we first meet Darya she is 104 years old, gorgeous and strong, and surrounded by butterflies that float out from her pockets, follow her every move, and rest in her hair. This is just a small example of the magical elements contained in The Last Romanov. Magical realist fiction is a style that is fitting to the Russian setting of the story, as it shares Russian roots (think Gogol, Kafka or Nabokov), and adds to the mystery of the family.

The Last Romanov also contains many religious aspects that include Russian Orthodox, Jewish, and reincarnation beliefs, as well as the secular. It is a very complex book, yet it does not overwhelm the reader to the point that it is no longer fun. If you are looking for a rich and mysterious adventure, Mossanen’s The Last Romanov is it.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Alyssa is a wife and stay at home, homeschooling mother of five, with two boxers, two cats, a soft shelled turtle named after Bob the Builder, and 7 frogs (admittedly a homeschooling project gone froggy). In all her spare time, she loves to read and believes that there is no such thing as having too many books!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.