The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy #1)Featured
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
There's something about this setting that is very peaceful, and beautiful. Maybe it's the glittering balls, the royalty, intrigue, murderous vampires, necromancers. Wait, did I just say murderous vampires and necromancers? Yes. Yes I did.
Oh. You didn't know? Well, back then Russia was divided into the Light Court and the Dark Court, and everyone knew that witches and vampires and stuff existed.
Katerina, our main character, has her own dark secret. She is a necromancer, and she hasn't told anyone (just because they know about them doesn't mean they like them). I like Katerina. She did have her moments, and sometimes she really bugged me, but I liked her as a whole. There are definitely some evil characters in this book, who I won't give away, but there are also quite a few lovable side characters as well.
The paranormal side of this story took a bit of getting used to. It was really hard to keep up with everything happening, but in the end I got everything sorted out.
Overall, this book is a great read. The historical fiction part of it is great, although the paranormalcy in it did sometimes get a bit confusing.
Not as Epic as I Imagined, But Still a Good Read
There's no doubt that this is a unique book. I certainly haven't read any other books with a similar subject. Honestly, I do not yet know how I feel about this book. I definitely enjoyed reading it, and I found the story compelling. However, the setting and the mythology here is also really weird, so weird, in fact, that I had difficulty settling into the rhythm of the story.
Also, I do not really like Katerina. I do like her passion for medicine and the fact that she is determined to become a doctor, even though it seems pretty much impossible for her to do so. However, why does she always almost swoon when anything gross happens? Umm, as a doctor, she'll need to not do that. Another good quality of hers is that she doesn't want to be forced into marriage or fulfilling her social role. What bothered me, though, was that for all her lofty ideals and moral fortitude, she didn't apply herself. She has so much power, but does not make good use of it. To be a doctor, she must be smart, but she doesn't act that way much of the time.
Still, I did really like Georgi, the Grand Duke. He has a very Darcy air about him that, unsurprisingly, thrills me.
I definitely plan to read more of this series. Hopefully, Katerina will make better use of her awesome qualities, there will be more Georgi and the paranormal stuff will be further explained.
Imperial Russia Gets A Paranormal Makeover
Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, has a dark secret that she has kept hidden since she was a child - she can raise the dead. As part of the inner circle of Russia's imperial court Katerina has grown up surrounded by nobles and political intrigue but nothing has prepared her for the plot she discovers which may bring down the tsar himself. Now Katerina must uncover the players and put all the pieces together while maintaining her secret in order to protect the people and country she loves.
Bridges's familiarity with Russia and Eastern European folklore is very apparent as she uses elements of both to weave an exciting, glittering world with a dark paranormal underbelly. Like the characters of this novel, the reader is placed on a strange tightrope balancing between elements of science and paranormal. Katerina struggles to find an equilibrium that allows her to pursue her desire to be a doctor as well as embrace the shadow of her very unnatural gift. Readers will relate to Katerina as she endeavors to make hard choices between what she wants and what must be done. Duty, desire, romance and mystery come together beautifully in this novel to bring to life a character that is as flawed and real as the person sitting next to you on the train. The Gathering Storm has everything a reader could ask for including an ending that somehow leaves the reader with both a sense closure and commencement. I am impatiently awaiting the next book in the trilogy due out in October 2012.
Recommended for Readers of:
Maggie Stiefvater, Melissa Marr, Jessica Spotswood, Heather Dixon
2. Unique plot
3. Incorporates Russian folklore
The cover doesn't lie.
From the moment I saw the cover, I knew I had to read this. Why? Well, first of all, it looked fantabulously awesome, but when I was a kid (like a kid-kid, not a teenager like I am now) I was obsessed with Anastasia Romanov. Obsessed. As in, I thought she was still alive and waiting for rescue and her rightful throne somewhere.
I never claimed to be normal.
Anyway, during my brief stint of researching Anastasia and knowing everything there was to know about Anastasia's world, I fell in love with Russian history. Temporarily. Before Japan took over. I mean, what's there not to love? Samovars. Being wrapped up in furs so you can go on a sled ride. A dashingly evil prince set on marrying you so that he can take over the world, using you as his weapon.
No, wait, that's just Katerina.
This is not the Russia I used to research as a kid. It may be the 1880s - girls don't have a ton of rights, and dads sport handsome mustaches and talk about war and death and soldiers and such. And I do have to admit, Robin Bridges really did her research. One minute, you're admiring the insides of the royal palace, and the next you're surrounded by various paranormal creatures duking it out for power.
Yeah, I think Anastasia just lost her pedestal in my memory. Sorry, dear.
Katerina is charming and believable. She might be strong, but not strong enough to fight off Danilo's hypnotic charms - "Unhand me...oh, your eyes, they sparkle so...I think I love you" - and she does go for the right guy in the end. Sort of. And she wants to be a doctor. Don't you just love a girl who defies her gender role?
Also, I really like her hat. Can I have one, too?
Historical Fiction with a Paranormal Twist
Well, I'm not sure what to think of this one. I should have expected an element of paranormal based on the synopsis, but I didn't anticipate the direction of this one. If Buffy the Vampire slayer went back in time to tell history, that would describe my impression of the book. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't a terrible read... but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows either.
I loved the setting. Russia in the 1800s is a fantastic setting for a story. There is just so much that could be done with that setting. You don't get a large sense of what Russia was like during that time because the story focuses on the royal families. They are kind of "just there" doing whatever it is uber-rich people in 1800s Russia do: fancy balls, trying to impress nobilty, etc. There wasn't alot that made me tingle and get excited beyond the physical setting of the book, except for the MC herself. She wasn't the greatest female character ever written, but she had many positive aspects. First, she was super smart in a believable way. Love that. In a time where girls only focused on finding a husband, this chick wanted to be a doctor. I loved her determination. She pretty much told the men in her life to screw off because she was going to medical school, whether they agreed with it or not. It was pretty awesome. Her dad was supportive of her ambitions, which I thought was a nice touch.
Then there is the paranormal factor. Obviously, the girl can raise the dead. I knew that, even if the MC didn't. The purpose of raising the dead was unclear. Katerina thought it was a curse, so she tried to keep it a secret. Others thought differently of her abilities, which caused the majority of the conflict in the story. The paranormal aspect of the book was a bit over the top. You had Russian courts that sided with either the light or dark faeries. (Yep, there were fae in the book.) The dark court had vampires and witches. Very random, but a huge element in the book. At times, keeping up with the different types of vampires was confusing and difficult. It read like a Who's Who book of vampire lineage. There were also "zombies"-- warriors rasied from the dead by an evil vampire queen to fight the current tsar. Oh, and there was the lone werewolf. You never find out about the wolf, but you can guess who it is. Again, very random.
The plot was fairly well developed. It was consistent and fast-paced throughout the novel. You can tell it will be a series because the ending left a lot of loose ends to be dealt with. The evil vampire empire is destroyed, but they are pissed with the current situation they have landed in. You know they will be back. Konstantine's ghost isn't destroyed and can't be found, so it's also pretty likely he will be back in the next book. I did like that the MC, Katerina, and her love interest don't end up all gushy and romantic in each other's arms. The relationship between the two seems to be slowly developing and will continue in the next book. I am certain of that.
I can't decide on what "score" I would give this one. At first I said a 2 because I didn't feel much for the story or characters. I never made a connection to anyone in the book, so I didn't really care what happened in the end. But then I looked at other books that I rated a 2, and felt that might be a bit harsh for this one. It wasn't a painful read, and I sped through it like Speed Racer. My eyes didn't bleed from the experience, so I felt like a 3 was a more fitting rating. This one was "ok"-- I don't feel like I wasted hours of my life reading it. At the same time, however, I am glad I didn't pay for this book. I would not rush to the store to buy a copy. Wait for this one to hit the local library shelves.