From Goodreads: 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?
My Rating: 2.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges was just such an odd mixture of history, fantasy and paranormal! Set in Russia during the rule of Alexander III, Bridges captures the lifestyle of the rich, but then enmeshes the historical reality with creatures like faeries, vampires, revenants and more. These fantasy and paranormal creatures seem to be discussed randomly early on in mini info dumps. Later in the book, they more or less took precedence – I’m still not fully sure what they were all doing because nothing was really explained; it was so very vague – and the story simply became a blend of fantasy and paranormal that just happened to be set in a historical setting. This was kind of disappointing because I expected something with more “historical” to it. (Although maybe that’s a good thing because as a member of the aristocracy, Katerina wouldn’t be doing much then other than attending balls …)
The romance was also disappointing. It’s not a love triangle like the summary suggests so that was good, but I don’t know … I just wasn’t feeling it. Part of that I think can be attributed to the time period – since there wasn’t a huge amount of private, personal interaction, the switch in feelings from dislike to like from both parties felt kind of sudden.
As well, most of the characters felt very flat. Just as how there were way too many paranormal creatures – none of whom were explored in depth, there were also too many secondary characters. I know there were a lot of aristrocrats, but all the same/similar names and finding out how Katerina was related to everybody just confused me!
Katerina herself was nothing special. While I did like that she was proactive and wanted to be a doctor rather than just aiming to get married, I found her situation a little unbelievable. Assuming you’re a duchess in 1888, why in the world would want to give up your easy, luxurious life to have the unglamorous job of a doctor?
A story that I found weird, but one that didn’t completely bore me; The Gathering Storm was released by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on January 10, 2012.
Comments About the Cover: The clothes the model is wearing immediately tells you that the book is set in Russia, which was one of the reasons why I requested The Gathering Storm.
In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.