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Whitcomb (A Certain Slant of Light) revisits the hereafter with this ambitious fantasy that dips into Russian history to explain why Princess Anastasia and Prince Alex's remains were not found alongside the rest of the slain Romanov family: they were spirited away by Calder, a Fetch, who attends the dying and escorts souls to heaven. Calder is a hugely empathetic figure, abandoned as a baby and killed at age 19, but he errs, first by falling in love with a Romanov, and then in taking the dying mystic Rasputin's body as his own in order to pursue her, causing a major rupture in the spirit world. To heal the wound, he, Anastasia and Alexei (here called Alexis) travel the globe in search of a lost key. The story, riveting until this point, loses its focus as they begin their trek. Whitcomb's inventive vision of the afterlife almost makes up for the plodding pace of the narrative-it's an ultimately comforting place where souls see their deepest regrets woven into tapestries and their contributions displayed in the form of a garden only they can interpret. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.