One of the most fascinating historical characters, the infamous Russian "mad monk" Grigori Rasputin (1869–1916) morphs into a tormented emo-gothish youth, descended from a mythical prince who stole the water of life and hence a powerful healer. Grecian's (Proof; "Scotland Yard's Murder Squad" series) supernaturally enhanced narrative intercuts the scene of Rasputin's murder with backstory about the mystic's youth and how he became a confidant of Tsar Nicholas II while taking on characteristics of creatures he cures. The beguiling fantasy elements (e.g., frost spirits, ghosts, Baba Yaga's house, the mythical Prince Ivan) appear based on Russian folklore. Rossmo (Proof; Dia de los Muertos) draws out the story beautifully with near wordless, gorgeous splash pages, including a marvelous sequence in which Rasputin's abusive human father fights a giant bear in a snow-choked Siberian vista. Thanks to Plascencia's expressive colors, the healer's miraculous touch appears as a striking greenish X-ray-type image of the plagued creature, glowing in translucence. VERDICT To be concluded with a second volume, this title impresses as a riveting and elegant historical fantasy and will attract high schoolers and adults with a soft spot for eerie mysticism.—M.C.