Publisher: Delacorte Books
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 tasar 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 threatenn 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?
Having a true passion for the Russian Culture including mythologies and royalty stories such as the likes of Anastasia, I was very much drawn to this particular title because of the Russian side of it - not to mention it's gorgeous cover and fantastic blurb. There's just something magical about Russia within its presence that has always led back to things of the supernatural and mere science, and that, I guess, has always fascinated me ever since I was a small child. So, to create a book with a blend of historical and paranormal elements . . . it's a total win for me. And it should be. But having said that, I did have a lot of trouble with this book, especially through the first half of it.
Now it's not to say I didn't necessarily enjoy this book, because I really, really did in the end, but it had more to do with taking a lot of things in and all at once too - what with the character's, their families and their many different names, the crossovers of mythology terms and you know . . . other similar things like that! You get it, right? But as I slowly started to get used to the character names, knowing who's who and be familiar with what exactly is going on within the actual plot and understanding why the living dead are popping out of nowhere, I actually found THE GATHERING STORM to be quite an interesting read. It wasn't a superb read - I will admit that - but there was just enough there to keep my interest. So, if you're like me and love the Russian culture, you'll definitely love this book. There's no doubt about it. The setting and the way Robin Bridges's describes it in vivid detail was such an awesome treat for me and I wanted more of it! So bravo for the author for making me come to like this book, even if it was a slow love at first.
For main protagonists I thought Katerina was a decent main character. She was brave, intelligent, very protective of her family, and she also had this great charm about her as well - this real human emotion deep inside her - that had really hit home for me and it was one trait that I actually loved about her. But Katerina was someone I had to wait out and see if I would like her in the end . . . because her character wasn't someone you connected with straight away but as the story goes on and when Katerina learns about her own strengths and weaknesses, she eventually grew up a little and turned out to be a great character at that.
As for the romance element and judging by the blurb itself, I was expecting yet another love triangle to be introduced here. However, I did find myself really surprised when it wasn't the love triangle I was expecting and I love being surprised in that respect. In fact, I wouldn't even call it a 'love triangle' because there wasn't one. There's one potential love interest in the future (that's for sure) and with the other 'suppose' love interest . . . though with the second love interest I doubt anything will develop into love and if not at all. So, there's two princes who captures Katerina's attention There's Danilo, the charming crown prince of Montenegro, and he's everything Katerina's mother wants in a suitor, and then there's the young man named George Alexandrovich, the tsar's young and middle son, who is a mystery all on his own and is known for his seriousness. Danilo was an annoying character from the get-go and I despised him because Katerina despised him . . . but he was still able to interest me in the best way possible. Still, I hated him. But the person who'd caught my own eye was George and he was by far the best person ever in this book. He may not have had much time on the pages, but from what I've seen of him already . . . he's going to be a lovable love interest overtime. So, while these two boys were awesome in their own way but were completely infuriating for the most part, and even if the romance did fall a little flat for me, but I still have the secret pleasure of my Georgi! He SO needed more of the spotlight I tell you!
Overall, Robin Bridges's debut novel THE GATHERING STORM was an exciting start for a YA trilogy. The book didn't blow me away like I wanted it to (some parts worked and other parts didn't), but I'm still very anxious to see what else the author has up her sleeve, especially when it comes to her next sequel!
3 1/2 / 5 stars