Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Curse of the Romanovs

The Curse of the Romanovs

Staton Rabin
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2007   ISBN: 978-1416902089

Alexei Nikolayevich, the future Tsar of Russia, has been very ill again. Being a hemophiliac he is often ill and his parents frequently fear for his life. This time he got a nose bleed and it simply would not stop. His terrified mother, the Tsarina, sent for their family friend, Rasputin. Rasputin somehow is able to ease Alexei’s pain and he gives him relief when he is bleeding internally. No one else is able to help at these times. Because he is able to help Alexei in this way, the royal family are grateful to Rasputin and the Tsarina believes that he is a holy man, sent by God to help her son. No one else likes Rasputin however. His is a decidedly shady person with unsavory habits, and his influence over the royal family is deeply resented by many.

Soon after the nose bleed episode Alexei observes an encounter between Rasputin and his mother which convinces him that Rasputin has to be removed. Alexei goes to his cousin Felix Yusupov to ask for his help. Felix then arranges to have Rasputin assassinated. Unfortunately the so-called holy man is not that easy to kill. Even after he is poisoned, shot, beaten, and thrown in the river, he still will not die. In terror Alexei runs away from the horrible man. He then tries a mind trick that Rasputin taught him and then the next thing he knows he is in New York City and the year is 2010.

Luckily Alexei’s journey into the future does not leave him completely stranded. He finds himself in the company of a girl, Varda, who quickly takes him under her wing. She is fascinated by his story and does her best to help him find his bearing in her world. Then he learns what happened to his country and his family in 1917 and 1918, and he is desperate to get back to Russia to try to save his parents and his sisters before it is too late. Will it be possible for him, the delicate hemophiliac who has always been protected from the world, to be able to go back in time to save his family from the revolution which is going to rip Russia apart?

In this superb book Staton Rabin weaves together fact and fiction to create a book which truly gives readers a sense of what it might have been like to be a part of the Romanov family. We are able to see how out of touch the Romanov’s were with what was going on in Russia and how ill equipped the Tsar was for the role he was given. Most of all we can see how much the entire family suffered because of Alexei’s illness. They were always afraid for him, and they all suffered with him when he screamed with pain.

And then there is the adventure side to the story, the gripping and thrilling journeys through time which allow Alexei to come into contact with a girl from New York City who grows to love him and who discovers that she is connected to him in more ways than one.

Wonderfully crafted and thoroughly enjoyable to read, this excellent book shows once again that Staton Rabin is clearly a writer to watch.

At the back of the book the author has included extensive notes on the history of her characters, background information on the Russian revolution, and much more.