The Lost Crown
Antheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416983408, $17.99, www.amazon.com
The 1918 massacre of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and the purported escape of his daughter Anastasia (in recent years proven unequivocally false) has for nearly a century fascinated mystery buffs and conspiracy theorists. The fate of the Romanovs has spurred countless books and films. Award winning author Sarah Miller takes up the story once again, this time telling it from the point of Anastasia and her sisters Maria, Tatiana and Olga who in 1918 were, respectively, 17, 19, 21 and 23. Told in first person over the course of four years, the chapters rotate between the four sisters' voices as their family's fortune disintegrates, first with the abdication of their father from the Russian throne, then with their imprisonment and finally with their mass execution at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionists. Miller is a strong writer and put a tremendous amount of effort into ensuring that the book accurately reflects the political/historical times as well as the personalities and life positions of the young women themselves, extensively researching diaries and other resources. Unfortunately, other than perhaps the notoriously (or mythically?) feisty Anastasia, what's interesting about the Romanov daughters is their family's demise, not necessarily them. The sisters, Miller's book deftly underscores, lived a sheltered court life of diamond studded privilege with a perfunctory education and little understanding of or interaction with the world outside their posh palace walls. Until their father abdicated they were destined to remain in that fairytale, marrying as privileged young men. The family shows some grit as their situation worsens but there are no discernable heroes or particularly valiant actions, ultimately just naive lambs led to slaughter. Miller deserves praise for her hard wrought...