Melissa Wyatt, Author . Random/Lamb $16.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-385-73095-2

The product of a comfortable English upbringing, Alex Varenhoff feels shocked and resentful when he is yanked out of his boarding school and sent home—it seems his family has suddenly been recalled to their rightful places as the rulers of Rovenia, a small Eastern European country seized by the Soviets and later governed by communists. Free but impoverished, the country has decided to adopt a constitutional monarchy. Alex, complaining all the way, receives a crash course in royal etiquette, politics and Rovenian history, then moves with his parents to Rovenia. Once there, he finds fault with everything, from the smell of the castle to the isolation from his peers to the throngs of teenage girls who treat him as if he were a rock star. It takes a tragedy for Alex, now Alexei, to understand the notion of service to an ideal. The similarities in plot can't help but evoke Meg Cabot's more effervescent The Princess Diaries , while the setting and themes beg comparison with those of Peter Dickinson's highly nuanced Shadow of a Hero. But the perennial fascination with royalty and celebrity will likely compensate for debut novelist Wyatt's improbable story line, and readers who are having trouble waiting for Princess Mia's newest adventures may be glad enough to spend time with Prince Alexei. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/12/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7569-5261-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 279 pages - 978-0-440-23821-8
Prebound-Glued - 279 pages - 978-1-4176-9163-0
Open Ebook - 196 pages - 978-0-307-43366-4
Library Binding - 208 pages - 978-0-385-90115-4
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