The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia

  • Title: The Family Romanov: Murder Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia
  • Author: Candace Fleming
  • Published: 2014 by Schartz and Wade Books
  • Interest Level: High School
  • Lexile Level: 940L
  • Reading Counts Points: 17

Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Book Trailer


Quite possibly one of the most captivating of history’s mysteries, the story of the last reigning Romanovs is filled with drama, tragedy, and intrigue. In The Family Romanov readers are offered an introduction to Russian history and Romanov rule. This provides a strong context in understanding Tsar Nicholas II’s constant series of fatal choices as a ruler. Raised in a bubble of wealth and educated to believe in the divine right of rulers, Nicholas often misunderstood the plight and starvation of his people. Additionally, he believed his choices and circumstances were directly from God. The need to provide an heir also weighed on the Tsar and Tsarina. They had four daughters before finally being given the little Tsarevich Alexei who was afflicted with hemophilia. Fleming (2014) quotes the Tsar’s diary account, “A hemorrhage began this morning without the slightest cause…It lasted until evening . The child was remarkably quiet and even merry but it was a dreadful thing to to live through such anxiety” (p.54) . With the hopes of the monarchy set on this one, sick, little boy, this family lived in perpetual fear and worry.

In sharing the Romanov’s story, Fleming’s is a family tale. The Tsar and Tsarina were deeply in love and delighted in their children. Each member of this historic family is brought to life as the unique, mischievous, and loving human beings they each were. Of course, the strangeness of Rasputin, who was often behind the Tsar’s poor political decisions, makes the story even more interesting. Only Rasputin was able to stop Alexei’s bleeding, even today historians do not know how he did that.

Slideshow images from The Family Romanov : The Winter Palace, Rasputin with the Romanovs, Olga, Tatiana, and a friend in Crimea, “Some of Moscow’s poorest citizens outside a shared house”, Alexandra at Alexei’s bedside (photo insert between pages 132-133).

There are lots of books on Russian history and this family, but what makes The Family Romanov unique is that the wealthy ruler’s perspective is interspersed with that of the poor, common people trying to survive in the harsh Russian climate and failed economy. Readers are treated to the complicated emotions on each side. While Nicholas was naive to the Russian people’s dire needs, he did care for his people. Meanwhile, there are accounts of Russian citizen’s which illustrate the awe and reverence for the Royal family.

This title is an excellent addition to any collection, especially due to its timeliness. The distribution of wealth at the fall of the Russian, is quite similar to the current U.S economy. Below is an image from the book illustrating the wealth distribution in Russia at that the turn of the twentieth century . Next is a graph describing the wealth distrubution in the U.S. in 2017. Certainly, this book shares one of history’s most cautionary tales and will allow readers a chance to analyze our current climate with that of the past.

Fleming (photo insert between pages 132-133)
Leonhardt (2017)


This book is filled with primary sources, maps, and many pictures of both rich and poor which are sure to capture a reader’s attention. There is are comprehensive Bibliography and Notes, as well as a Family Tree tracing the linage of Nicholas and Alexandra. Reader’s wanting to know more will enjoy the “Romanov’s Online” section, which directs to further resources. The book is told in four parts: “Before the Storm”, “Dark Clouds Gathering”, “The Storm Breaks”, and “Final Days”. The Family Romanov is available at my library as a physical book, an ebook, and an e-audiobook. I especially enjoy the audiobook, which is preformed by many voices and truly brings the story to life.

More Resources

Author’s website- includes resources and teaching guides


Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
Los Angeles Times
 Book Prize for Young Adult Literature
NCTE Orbis Pictus Award
Robert F. Sibert Nonfiction Honor Book
YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction FinalistALSC Notable Children’s Books, Older Readers, 2015  
 Editor’s Choice 2014
Booklist Editors Top of the List for Youth Nonfiction 2014
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon 2014
Cybils Award in Nonfiction for Young Adults 2014
Horn Book Fanfare 2014
Huffington Post Great Kid Books for Gift-Giving 2014
Junior Library Guild selection
Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book 2014
Los Angeles Times Literary Book Prize nominee  
New York Public Library Best Books for Teens 2014
Publishers Weekly Best Young Adult Books 2014
SCBWI Gold Kite Award for Nonfiction  
School Library Journal Best Book 2014
Wall Street Journal 2014
Washington Post Best Books for Kids 2014 



If you like The Family Romanov you might also like:

Also from Fleming, The Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All is the stories of more royal tragedies. The wives of King Henry VIII are given a voice as their stories are explored from their own likely perspective.

To read about other people living through historically hard times check out, Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America in the 1930’s which shares personal stories of people living in the aftermath of the stock market crash.


Danielson, J. (2014). Sneaky peeks videos #21: Candace Fleming discusses The Family Romanov.

“The Family Romanov”. (2020).

Fleming, C. (2014). The family Romanov: Murder, rebellion, and the fall of Imperial Russia. Schwartz & Wade.

“The last days of the Romanovs”. (2018). National Geographic.

Leonhardt, D. (2017). Our broken economy, in one simple chart. The New York Times.

Reading counts quick find. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

4 thoughts on “The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia

  1. I loved this book and I love your review, particularly the slideshow of pictures! The final section of the book gave me a tremendous sense of foreboding and the description of the execution was awfrul.


  2. Rachel – I love that you included a book trailer for this title. What a great idea! (the trailer was so clever with the different magazine and newspaper publications!). And I like that you listed awards the book had won and linked to the video of the author. All things I should definitely incorporate into my next blog posting 🙂 Thanks for sharing this book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. I really liked what they did with this book trailer as well. It kind of brought the history into today’s world.


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