The Kitchen Boy is a brilliant mixture of historical information and skillful storytelling that makes this novel a classic.
Robert Alexander takes the bare bones of the Romanov tragedy (the escape plotting notes and the details of skeletons finally recovered) and fleshes them out into a poignant, seemingly accurate tale.
The descriptions of each member of the Tsar’s family and how each behaved in captivity are based on testimony from those who saw them and are only slightly embellished. The diaries of the Tsar and Tsaritsa are also utilized to full extent to illustrate the misconceptions about her and the fact that he, while well-intentioned, was at best ineffectual as a leader.
Readers cannot help but feel their hearts pound as they read Alexander's powerful prose. Even though the outcome of the novel is known from the beginning, one keeps hoping the family will hear the “whistle in the night.”
Showing even more skill, Alexander weaves a subplot that is dizzying in its intricacies. Readers are kept guessing with each turn of the page until the romantic if unlikely final revelation becomes known.
The pacing of the novel is excellent and conveys both the dragging of time and the urgency of action when it is appropriate to the story. The imagery and descriptions are so vivid that the reader can almost picture the Tsar pacing up and down and the family rushing to be near the finally opened window for a breath of fresh air.
The Kitchen Boy is a national bestseller and deservedly so. It is a must read for fans of historical novels.