Review by Abby Horton
In The Storyteller, Kathryn Williams’s coming of age novel, we follow a typical teenage girl living her normal life in the early 2000s. As an aspiring writer, Jess Morgan feels pressured to live up to her Mother and Father’s academic expectations, but this all starts to fade away at an unexpected time.
While helping clear out her great-great-aunt Anna’s house, 17-year-old Jess uncovers a chest full of diaries written in Russian hidden away in the attic. She then hires a college student, Evan Hermann, to translate them. The pair soon discovers that Anna, who lived a quiet life, may have been the Russian royal who was rumored to have escaped when the rest of her family was executed in 1918. As Jess and Evan work their way through the diaries, readers are treated to long excerpts in which young Anastasia details her unlikely escape to the United States via Western Europe.
Despite the pair’s shock, they continue to read the journals until they start to realize that Jess’s so-called “Aunt Anna” could really be Anastasia Romanov. With the duo’s sleuthing and translational expertise, they tell the story of Anastasia’s life as an indulged royal, then a prisoner with her family, and later as a destitute political pawn on the run. As the story behind the diaries eventually becomes clear, it confirms Jess’s decision to strive for a more authentic self.
I recommend this book to any readers interested in mystery, suspense, and historical fiction. I recommend this book for readers 12 and up.