Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Release date: January 10, 2012
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Ember
Format: Paperback
Pages: 386
Source: Purchased
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
The Gathering Storm has been on my TBR list for too long. I've always been fascinated with Russian history and necromancers have fascinated me since I read Garth Nix's Sabriel in elementary school, so when I originally heard of the book--back in 2011, mind you--I knew it was one I was going to have to read. Somehow it took me about two years to get to it. I'm so glad I finally picked it up. But, I'm a little confused when it comes to how I feel about the book after having finished it. There was a lot to love and I very much enjoyed reading it, don't get me wrong, but something is keeping me from saying that I just loved the book.

First and foremost, the setting. Like many, I'm fascinated by the Romanov dynasty and the mystery surrounding it, (Note: the tsar here is the next-to-last tsar of Russia--his heir will be the last. Also, don't read about George on Wikipedia! Don't!) so a book set during that time period dealing with the nobility was one I couldn't pass up. Not only was it immensely enjoyable to read about these people, but the world around them was perfectly constructed. It was easy to note that Robin Bridges did her research and it was so much fun to almost feel the cold of the Russian winter, taste the spiced teas, and dance in the glittering balls.

Katerina is also a highlight. She strikes a perfect balance between the girl she should be and the girl we want her to be. She knows her duty to her family and observes all of the nuances of her society. Yet she also dreams of being a doctor and fights tirelessly to save her family, even at the highest costs. She's intelligent, driven, compassionate, and brave. At times she's a little naive and not as smart as she should be, but that's okay; the girl's only sixteen going on seventeen.

I guess what's keeping me from waxing poetic about The Gathering Storm is that it felt like an effort to cram a few too many paranormal ideas into one book. With vampires. werewolves, fairies, necromancers, and sorcerers all vying for attention, it's not only hard to keep track of but a little unfocused.

Despite that, though, I'm so excited to see where this series heads in the next two books (which are both out, muahahahahaha)! With a setting anyone is bound to be captivated by, characters that are immediately winning, and a mystery- and romance-filled plot, what's not to like?

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