This novel is about the last years of Grigori Rasputin's life, as told by Vasili, a young orphan boy taken in and raised by Rasputin. Vasili is privy to all facets of Rasputin's life, including frequent visits to the Imperial Family at their palace, where Rasputin is highly esteemed by Alexandra who believes he is the only one who can heal Alexej who suffers from hemophilia. In Rasputin's home there is a constant stream of visitors, as people are always coming for blessings, advice and so on. Some revered him, others loathed him, and he survived one murder attempt. The author mixes fact and fiction, which I imagine to be a tricky thing to do.
There's a nice video of the author explaining a little bit about this novel on his homepage. Take a look at the video from 7.9.2013 (it's only in Finnish though). He says that we are often conditioned to believe that only the official version of history is the 'truth', i.e. that what we see (what has been written down) when in fact, the truth is also made up of the parts which we do not see, an element he wanted to bring to the story. He also wanted to show Rasputin as a person of flesh and blood, as he is often portrayed as either a mystic or a fraud, depending on one's viewpoint.
In my opinion he has succeeded perfectly. I am not going to digging around looking for facts regarding certain elements of the book to see whether there is any written record about them or not (all right, I admit I did begin to do so, but then decided to put a stop to it) I especially liked the structure of the book, the end, the atmosphere conveyed throughout, the language...
There is only one problem with the book and the author and it's a rather serious one. I'm experiencing a severe need to read something else by him, but I can't really just jet off to Finland for the sole purpose of buying a book (or twelve). I'd need some other excuse as a cover, no matter how lame. Or I'll have to choose the next one just by the cover picture and blurb.
Here is the link to the videos on his webpage: