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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar
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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  9,715 Ratings  ·  1,171 Reviews

Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the tragic, perennially fascinating story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra as seen through the eyes of the Romanovs’ young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an ancient Russian immigrant, Leonka claims to be the last living witness to the Romanovs’ brutal murders and sets down the da

Paperback, 229 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published 2003)
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Tom Darrow Depends on the teen. The language is easy enough for a teenager to comprehend, although it jumps back and forth between Russian phrases and their…moreDepends on the teen. The language is easy enough for a teenager to comprehend, although it jumps back and forth between Russian phrases and their English translations, which might confuse some.

On the subject of content, the murder scene is somewhat graphic, although not graphic just for the sake of being graphic. Also, there are a few things that the guards do to the bodies (particularly the female ones) that parents might object to.

As with most things like this, parents should do some research and have a conversation with their kids about the content.(less)

Community Reviews

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Robert Alexander
Apr 08, 2008 Robert Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: historical fiction
Hey, I wrote it, what am I supposed to say but I love it!
Mar 27, 2008 Adrianne rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People love historical fictions and twisted endings, and have the stomach for the nastiness of war
For the first 170 pages, I felt like the Alexander was beating a dead horse by focusing on the same four points over and over again. 1)Leonka was the kitchen boy, 2)Although Tsar and Tsaritsa had many failings, they were good people that deeply loved their family and Russia, 3) The conditions the Romanovs were kept in were terrible with little hope of escape, and 4)Misha hated himself for how history unfolded. Seriously, I was sick of these points being described again and again. Yet, I didn't ...more
Oct 11, 2015 Tania rated it liked it
Nikolai, Aleksandra, and their five children were the ultimate symbols, both good and bad, of all that was Russia...
3.5 stars. If like me, you know very little about the Romanov's, this is an excellent introduction. The author explains, while blending it in as part of the story, the politics and history. He also shows that bad rulers, can still be good people. And to top it off he manages to still add a lot of suspense to a story where everyone knows the ending.
Like all well-educated individuals, I first learned about the Romanovs from the animated movie Anastasia. I know you remember it. Don't deny it.

A Brief Father Cameo

A Sweet Romance Between Meg Ryan Anastasia and John Cusack Dimitri

You Want a Little Sass with that Romance? You Betcha!

I am still a kid at heart and still adore this movie for everything that it is (I fear that "accurate" is not something that it is). Unfortunately, this means that my obsession interest was based on LIES. Being aware
Mar 28, 2008 Leanna rated it really liked it
Robert Alexander’s The Kitchen Boy is a fictionalized account of the Romanovs’ last days. Several historical records mention a kitchen boy working for Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra during their captivity in Yekaterinburg. These references inspired the novel.

Misha is the kitchen boy. In the late 1990s, he lives in the United States and has recently lost his wife. Before dying himself, he makes a tape for his granddaughter, explaining exactly what happened to the Romanovs on the days precedi
Feb 23, 2011 Audrey rated it it was ok
I am demoting this book to two stars because after stewing for a couple of months, I've decided it annoys me.
The Kitchen Boy is not bad. The language of the narration is interesting. There is a stilted, halting, slightly awkward flow to the language which reminds me of how my husband (who lived in Russia until his mid-20s) would write in English. I'm not sure if Robert Alexander (a native English speaker) wrote like this on purpose or not. But in general I'm not very impressed with the style.

Jun 08, 2011 Camela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Loved it! I love historical fiction. I get to learn more about history AND I get a great story. This is one of those books. And even though I knew it was going to end very badly, I still wanted to see it through. I especially enjoyed getting immersed in the Russian psyche. (from first reading)

I'm excited to be sharing this book with a new book club. Yes, I enjoyed it that much.
Sep 01, 2009 Rai rated it it was ok
It isn't clear to me what exactly the author of this book was hoping to accomplish when he wrote "The Kitchen Boy".
When starting it, I'd been under the impression that it was a ficion in some shape or form, but almost the whole way through I felt like I was reading a documentary on the Romanov family- a compilation of facts (some quite randome) and events that I already knew. And so I decided that Mr. Alexander's goal in writing this book, was merely to educate those who cared to know on the om
Aug 14, 2016 Carolina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5, usa
Adorei, adorei e adorei!!!! :D


"The Kitchen Boy" relata os últimos dias dos Romanov, a última família imperial russa.

Foi o 2º livro que li de Robert Alexander e o 2º da sua autoria ao qual atribuí 5 estrelas! :)

A elevada classificação deve-se, em grande parte, ao meu gigante fascínio pela cultura russa, nomeadamente pelo tempo dos czares, com carinho especial para Nicolau II, devido à sua trágica história. Contudo, em tal classificação, também tive em conta a bri
Jul 08, 2007 Alissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults interested in historical fiction
Having known neither anything about the Romanovs nor anything at all about Russian customs or the language, I found this book an excellent primer in those historical details many people are already familiar with. The way that the fiction is depicted within the well-researched, factual occurrences is well done, and very creative. At times, Alexander's writing style annoying, but thankfully there are many dry spells of this "ellipsical" habit. The end is pretty gory (as only the execution ...more
Katie Hutchison Irion
If I could I would give this a 3.5. I think it is worth reading. It is about the Romanov's last days before they were all brutally massacred. (I know, very uplifting.) I read this about a year ago and I still occasionally find myself thinking about what happened to Anastasia. You know, they never found her body. Creepy. Anyway, I was bothered that there was never an explanation of what was fiction and what was accurate. I don't like that. I like to know what parts I read are true and what parts ...more
Angela Watts
Aug 16, 2016 Angela Watts rated it it was amazing
I was assigned this book for school; my Ma hadn't read it, just bought it offline. It went with our last year's study of Russia, and the Romanov family. Granted, of course, we learned plenty and read books on the time line, learned about Russia, saw the anger and the mobs during that bad time, etc.
But no book brought to life just how tragic and serious that time of history was like this fictional novel. Not for me.
I was never interested much in the history of Russia. I'd started reading the L
The simplistic writing style seems to be the norm for historical-fiction nowadays and maybe it's to ensure the writing doesn't get in the way of the premise but the impact can be construed as patronising at times. Anyway, I am scooting through this and am just at the point where Nicholas reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which he considers useful, and the point is made that he never gets to realise that it was a hoax of colossal obnoxiousness.

Another thought that could be worth discuss
I wanted to read this book for a long time before I finally picked it up. Now that I've read it I have mixed feelings about this story. I thought it was interesting, I liked the narrative and the perspective the author chose for his narrator, I also liked the twist at the end which gives a hopeful spin to the horrible events that really happened.

I've never read anything about the Romanovs before and this story made me want to learn more. So, while I was reading this I picked up 'Nicholas and Ale
Mar 21, 2009 Clare rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Liz and Heather
Recommended to Clare by: I read a review of it somewhere.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2008 Sera rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sera by: RG Book Club
I really loved this fictional account of the end of days for the Romanov family. Interwoven with real letters and other historical facts, the novel is about the young kitchen boy who worked for and supported the Romanov family while they were imprisoned by the Red Army. This book would be better read by those people who have some understanding of Nicholas II and his family prior to reading the book so as to be able to separate fact from fiction.

Alexander weaves a gripping tale of the events tha
Mar 13, 2009 Marcy rated it it was amazing
"One day he commands one-sixth of the world, the next he isn't even in charge of a single pane of glass." So starts the hypnotic, suspenseful tale of The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar. This tale is told through the eyes of the kitchen boy, who essentially became a part of Nicholas' family when they were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House in Siberia. He witnessed the deaths of the Tsar's family and felt responsible throughout his life for their deaths. Leonka, the kitchen boy, escapes Russia ...more
Mar 15, 2011 Anne rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Isabeau (Just Keep Reading)
Feb 22, 2015 Isabeau (Just Keep Reading) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own

Although I understand it's supposed to be fiction, some historical inaccuracies bothered me too much to give this book a full five stars. That being said, I immensely enjoyed it. Also, the plot twist at the end? Just, what? Totally did not see that one coming. It's pretty much how you wish the story had gone. The Romanovs have fascinated me for years, and it was interesting to see Alexander's take on their last months of captivity.
Narrated by Leonka, the kitchen boy, this is the story - part fact, part fiction - of the Romanovs last month. Using some of their real-life letters, notes and diary entries, and with storytelling that incorporates both haunting factual detail and suspenseful dramatic fiction, it’s a desperately sad but equally fascinating page turner. A riveting read.

Maria Carmo
A tantalizing book that makes me eager to find other books by the same Author. The story goes on spinning towards it's finale always amidst great suspense and the end is simply fantastic... Not adding any spoilers, but do read it!

Maria Carmo,

Lisboa, 13 August 2016.
Jan 09, 2010 Joanna rated it really liked it
This was a great book. A well-wrought story, beautifully realized, and exceptionally well told. It is also a fascinating narrative trick to take a story (the last days of the Romanovs) with a known ending, and create all the suspense in the matter of how that particular ending comes about. In this novel, of course, the missing graves of two of the children have given rise to rampant historical speculation and grandiose what if dramas. But Alexander spins truths and half truths and flight of ...more
Jun 27, 2016 Tita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Há já algum tempo que tinha muita curiosidade neste livro, quer por se focar nos últimos dias dos Romanov, mas também por ter visto opiniões muito positivas.
Robert Alexander focou-se na última entrada do diário da Czarina Alexandra, onde é mencionado que o jovem ajudante de cozinha - Leonka - foi levado pelos bolcheviques. Assim, o autor baseou-se na possibilidade de o jovem Leonka ser o único sobrevivente que sabe o que se passou ao certo com a família Romanov.
Sim, é um romance de ficção e como
Regina Lindsey
Every once in a while you start a book that once you begin approaching the final chapters depression sets in because you know the experience is about to end. This was one of them for me.

Written well before the final two Romanov children's bodies were found, Alexander takes what was once one of the best historical mysteries and brilliantly

weaves a tale about how the secret communications surrounding a possible rescue attempt of the Czar and his family from the Ipatiev house might have occure
Sep 12, 2015 Christie rated it it was amazing
From page 1 to page 229, I was drawn into this historical fiction novel, so much so, that it genuinely seemed to be a recounting of historical events as they happened. The author does a superb job of creating a tale of mystery and suspense with all of the pieces of the puzzle not coming together until the very last paragraph of the book. Historical documents are reproduced and referenced, thus adding more credibility to this work of fiction. There is also an extensive list of reference material ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natalie Keating
Aug 07, 2016 Natalie Keating rated it it was ok
Would have been a solid four stars if not for (view spoiler) ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Nikoline rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Romanov fans
Recommended to Nikoline by: book club
For a long time I have been very fascinated by the last tsar-family, the Romanovs. Much of the tragic is still a mystery with no eyewitnesses, and of course The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander is fiction, a lot of it is build on actual facts, letters and theories. It is a delightful read that gives the audience and the ignorant an idea of how the the Romanov-family lived and loved each other so dearly that it broke my heart to read the end even though I did know what wa ...more
Jan 05, 2011 kari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 2011
The story of the last Tsar of Russia and his family as seen through the eyes of one of their servants, the kitchen boy, Leonka. The details of the daily life, the hopes and fears the family endured in their last days, are played out with warmth and sympahty. The Tsar is portrayed as a loving family man and the portrait created of him and the Tsaritsa and their children is beautifully drawn.
It's written in such a way that you can feel the tension getting worse as the end nears and you'll be draw
Linda C
Aug 08, 2014 Linda C rated it really liked it
94 year old Mikhail Semyonov has laid out a detailed will and set of instructions for his granddaughter upon his death. Then he records the story of his life the month before the murder of the Romanov royal family in 1918, when he was the kitchen boy in the house where they were imprisoned. He claims to really be Leonid "Leonka" Sednyov, 14 at the time and witness to the actual events. He has collected documents over the years that support this and now in 1998 with the end of Communism and the ...more
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Robert Alexander is the author of the bestselling novels Rasputin's Daughter, The Kitchen Boy, and the forthcoming The Romanov Bride. He has spent over thirty years traveling to Russia, where he has studied and also worked for the U.S. government. He speaks frequently to book clubs, and the schedule for his live video webcasts can be found at his website:
More about Robert Alexander...

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“You see, my love. As you've always said, after the rain-"
After the darkness-"
And after the illness-"
Exactly," said the Tsar. "We mustn't give up faith.”
“On the other hand, he was compassionate because he knew pain, real pain, and real suffering too. Yet even in those bouts when it looked for sure as if he would die, he was never given morphine, not even as his screams of pain rattled the palace windows. That poor child had traveled to the bottom of life and back again, and naturally that had had a profound effect on him.” 5 likes
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