Khoury's new YA novel is a science fiction imagining that plays on the mythos created around the last Romanov, Anastasia, rumored to have escaped when the rest of her family was murdered.
16-year-old Stacia Androva has a great life. Her family owns a vineyard on one of the quieter parts of the galaxy and she's able to spend her time studying mechanics and spending time with her friends Clio and Pol. Though she knows that the Union government, set up after the Imperial Leonova family were overthrown and killed, has become almost more tyrannical than the family they deposed, the politics of the rest of the universe are far removed from her day to day life. Until the Direktor Eminent, Alexei Volkov, arrives on her planet and declares her hometown to be full of Loyalists who are traitors to the Union. And that one of those Loyalists is Princess Anya Leonova, who was secreted out of the Imperial household before the rest of her family was killed sixteen years ago. When someone points the finger at Stacia as the lost heir, she's at first more astonished than anything else - of course she's not the lost Anya. But Volkov isn't going to wait to make sure he has the right girl. If Stacia wants to survive, she has to escape now. And with the help of Pol, she manages to do that, though it nearly breaks her to leave her parents and best friend Clio behind to face Volkov's wrath.
Stacia's escape sets in motion a budding counter-revolution as the Loyalists move up their plan to overthrow Volkov and his Union army. That's all well and good, but as far as Stacia is concerned her quest has to be to find her parents and Clio and help to free them - not to take back a throne (though she may have little choice in the matter).
This is a great, action-packed story and Khoury does a nice job using the history of Anastasia to underpin her own creative world-building. And what really works well is how flawed and realistic her characterizations are. Though the Loyalists are the ostensible "good guys" because they want to overthrow a clearly bad dude (Volkov), they have their own agenda and will use Stacia if they have to to achieve their ends. If Stacia, who makes her own share of mistakes, is going to make it through, she'll have to do so while navigating the complicated machinations coming at her from all sides. Nicely done.