Author: Robin Bridges
Publication Date: 10 January 2012
Publisher: Delacorte BYR
Summary (courtesy of goodreads.com):
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.From the start, I had a lot of problems with this book. The writing seems a little off - like sometimes the narrator speaks like she is in 1888 St. Petersburg and sometimes she reads more like my annoying 14-year-old neighbor. Also, the blurb says that Katerina, "uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family," which sounds horribly ominous and terrifying and scary. She brings someone back from the dead! WHO COULD IT BE?! Yeah, don't get too excited about that. It's a bug.
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 idea that magic is ooooooh-super-bad is kind of ridiculous. In one paragraph, Katerina is telling us how horribly secretive every must be about anything supernatural. Two paragraphs later, she explains that the Empress and the...someone else (we'll get to THAT in a minute) are faeries. And their children? Faeries. And there's a Light Court and a Dark Court and you must choose who to align with. Or something. And EVERYONE KNOWS THIS. But we can't talk about it. I don't get it.
Another problem I had with The Gathering Storm is that there is an excessive number of characters, and I could never remember who was who. It's probably a good thing the story is written in the first person, because I may not have been able to remember who the main character was if she wasn't telling her own story. Seriously, that is how confused I was. She'd mention her cousin this, or the Duchess that, and Prince so-and-so, and don't forget that Countess blah-diddi-blah was there too. And then there were these vampires and those vampires. These revenants and those revenants. These evil creature people and those evil creature people. Were all these people truly necessary to the story? No. They were just there to confuse me.
And now that I have convinced you that I hated this book, I have a but to throw at you. And it's a big but. So I was confused and annoyed and frustrated throughout most of The Gathering Storm, BUT overall, I actually really enjoyed it. The story, no matter how lost I was, was really intriguing. Once Katerina stopped bringing insects back to life and real horrible-awful-supernatural things were happening, I was hooked. I needed to know what happened. It took me almost a week to read the first 150 pages of this book, and a-day-and-a-half to finish the rest. And now I'm completely anxious for the second book, The Unfailing Light, which will be out this October.
Also, there's something kind of fun about reading historical fiction, and that's finding out that all these people the author is writing about were totally real. I'm pretty sure Katerina is a completely fictional character, but everyone else - her friends, her mentors, her arch nemesis - was totally a real person who lived back then. Let's see some of them, shall we?
Isn't this exciting?! There's more characters that were, you know, real, but I get the feeling I'm boring some people here.
So anyway, I'm not sure I can recommend The Gathering Storm, or at least I don't know how to recommend it, because a part of me loved it and a great majority of me hated it. But...I don't know. I JUST DON'T KNOW, OKAY?!