Book Review: The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello
(Started: April 09, 2013; Finished: May 16, 2013)

Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it. 
Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life. 
Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price. 
The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed. 
Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, a television writer, and the author of many other books, most recently the supernatural thrillers Vigil (which appeared on the USA Today bestseller list) and Bestiary. His articles and essays have appeared often in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, People, and Parade,and his nonfiction book, Robert’s Rules of Writing, has become a staple in many college classrooms. His produced television credits include such popular shows as Charmed, Sliders, and Early Edition. A longstanding member of the Writers Guild of America, he lives in Santa Monica, California. (From Netgalley)
Review: 4 stars
Source: Random House Publishing Group--Bantam through Netgalley
Released on: March 05, 2013
Romanov. Whenever I heard that name, I always remember Anastasia. The duchess who we thought was alive and we were all hoping she was. Stories and faux Anastasias came out just to claim the fame and attention the mystery has been getting. Mind you, I have always been fascinated with the whole story, the Romanovs, Rasputin, etc. I am in a point of my life wherein it somehow became my obsession to google all things related to the Romanovs. Now that I know the whole story and that Anastasia's body was already found, the possibility of her being alive even just in a fictional context still allures me.

Seeing this book, I immediately requested for this book. But first, I have to explain why it took me so long to read it. I was preoccupied with different family trips and personal errands during the summer. I also took a breather for reading and writing so it was not the book's fault. Though I had to admit, since the book was narrated in both past and present views--sometimes alternately--I experienced slow paced moments especially in the modern setting. I guess it was because the author had to explain some technicalities which I thoroughly appreciate since there were a lot of medical verbiage that you have to learn and adapt in order to further understand what is happening. With the plot, I have to be honest that at first I was getting somehow confused on where some of the chapters would lead to. I was looking forward to the parts in the past setting more than the present. The said chapters were able to captivate me and grab my full-on attention that I was able to savor such history. I feel like I was also in that moment. But eventually, I experienced a light bulb moment and I was able to connect and patch everything. Then and there I was enlightened. Robert Masello's writing was also amazing. It was like watching a movie and I was able to play the scenarios inside my head. Like I said, I was hooked with the chapters Anastasia and Rasputin was in. It felt so real that the fictional contexts may even pass as part of our world history. It was no fiction, I tell you. He was able to lead me to a world of possibility despite knowing what's real. I also like the CSI-feel in some chapters. You'll know what I mean when you read it. The twist that was revealed towards the end was also surprising though I have already suspected it. It still had an impact and I was still thrilled. Plus, I was totally mind-blown by the ending. It was brilliant and has a really strong cliffhanger that I am expecting for a sequel despite knowing that it won't have one. Ahh! You know it was a good ending when you let the reader create different conclusions on his/her own. Oh it was an amazing read!

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Happy Reading Everyone!

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