Friday, February 17, 2012

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

The Gathering Storm 
By Robin Bridges
Reviewed by: Sis-in-law Sarah
ARC received from: Random House Publishing
Release date: Just released January 10, 2012!

Summary from

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?

Having enjoyed Russian literature in the past, loved movies such as Anastasia and Dr. Zhivago, and visited Russia and Montenegro, I was very much drawn to this book.  There is such an eeriness to Russian culture that truly lends itself to the supernatural, making this book a perfect blend of historical fiction and paranormal.  Well done, Robin Bridges, in choosing such an awesome setting for such a creepy mysterious story!

Basically, the author has taken the Russian fairytales of how the tsars were very much involved in the paranormal (faeries, vampires, werewolves, and such) and combined them with the story of a young girl who, like all young girls, is seeking to find her true self and her purpose.  And how often in that seeking we find things within ourselves that we feel make us unacceptable and unloveable!  Katerina is no exception!

Katerina (or Katiya) is born with what she and others believe is a dark curse...the ability to raise the dead.  Once she discovers this about herself she will do everything in her power to conceal it from those she loves, knowing full well that if her power is revealed, she will be cast out...perhaps even killed.  What she doesn't know, is that she is desperately needed to defeat the darkness that threatens the Russian tsar and his family.  What an awesome premise for a creepy book filled with undead soldiers, blood drinkers, mysterious spells, extravagant balls, and handsome young men!

And handsome young men it has!!! Of course Katiya has attracted the attention of two royal princes, Danilo, the crowned prince of Montenegro, and George Alexandrovitch, the second son of the Russian tsar.  (Don't you wish these things happened in real life? Not one...but two princes?! Really?!)  One prince she seems not to be able to stay away from, the other she desperately needs.  So realistic...doesn't love tend to be confusing at times?! The romance is a definite plus in this book! And those who prefer to stay on the clean side of romance can feel comfortable reading this one!

I did have a hard time with the names in this book.  Obviously, they are all Russian.  And everyone has like...three or four names.  And since it is Russian nobility, many of the characters are related to each other somehow.  It makes it kind of difficult to keep up with who's who.  However, I can understand this, having never successfully made it through a Tolstoy novel actually knowing whom everyone is from beginning to end.  Yet, I do feel like the author did the best she could with this, keeping to the Russian tradition of names (which she explains in the beginning of the book), yet making it accessible to the young reader.

This is definitely the beginning to an exciting new trilogy you're gonna want to get your hands on!  I'm most certainly anxious for book #2!