Series: Katerina #1
Hardback: 386 Pages
Publication: January 10, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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.Happy release day for The Gathering Storm!
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?
I love, love this book. To name my top three reasons: One, it is historical fiction. Two, the gorgeous Russian setting. Three, the paranormal aspects. There are also the characters that I love and hate. Robin Bridges has brought to us Katerina Alexandrovna, better known as Katiya to those close to her, a forward-thinking young woman with an interest in science and the medical professions despite her mother's intentions of marrying her off. There is her cousin and confidante Dariya, her many other relations, the shady Princess Elena and her sisters, and the tsar's son George Alexandrovich.
There is plenty of intrigue and mystery in this novel. To begin with, Katiya must deal with court politics, and she can never be too sure of her allies. Even those who would help her have their personal agendas. I feel that the synopsis blurs the lines of Danilo's loyalties a little too well; I like George much better despite his suspicions of Katiya. In truth, I still don't understand where his interest in her turned more romantic, but he is definitely my choice for hero.
The best part of this story has to be the necromancer business, the part that draws attention to Katiya, the part that has to do with the dead rising. It drives much of the plot and led to many scenes where I found myself speeding through the words, eager to find out what happens next. There were times when I was frustrated with Katiya's need to deal certain things herself, but her feelings are completely understandable. Regardless of her actions, her enemies are powerful, so even if she resisted their blackmail, they would most likely have put another plan into motion, one not as friendly if possible.
The Gathering Storm is a unique read that brings together old superstitions and the advent of a new age of science. I'm afraid that a bit of it rubbed off on me, as I could not go to bed without finishing this book for fear that the undead would haunt my dreams. Alas, they will haunt me enough while I anticipate the next installment in the trilogy!
An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes