Sunday, March 4, 2012

Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

From the Back Cover:

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 Thoughts:

Faeries, necromancers, vampires, and zombies in the imperial Russian court? Yes, please!

It's the height of the season in 1888, and the royal court in St. Petersburg is the place to be. Nobility from all over Europe rub elbows with the tsar and his family. The most prestigious families send their daughters to attend classes at the exclusive Smolny Institute, while their sons distinguish themselves serving in elite military units. Balls, teas, and skating parties abound. Scheming mothers seek advantageous marriages for their children and fathers jockey for political favor. But underneath all the dazzling glamour runs a sinister undercurrent, for the Russian nobility are members of the dark and light faery courts, and the fragile peace that has existed between them is being threatened. Someone is systematically murdering the tsar's best soldiers and bringing them back from the dead, creating an unstoppable revenant army to wreak havoc on the city. As panic spreads, the eyes of the court turn inward, searching for the powerful necromancer among them.

Katerina Alexandrovna, the young Duchess of Oldenburg, has always been terrified of her abilities, and has tried desperately to keep them hidden ever since she accidentally brought an animal back to life as a child. But the mysteries of life and death have always called to her, and she's turned that curiosity into a burning passion for studying modern medicine. Thanks to her position as an aspiring medical student and patron of the St. Petersburg hospital, she is able to study the victims, looking for clues to their master's identity. But Katerina's dark secret is not as well-kept as she'd thought, and she soon finds herself suspected by none other than the Grand Duke George, the tsar's handsome and serious second son, who will stop at nothing to find the evil power turning his comrades into zombies. The fact that Katerina is being courted by a dark prince from a notorious vampire family doesn't help her look good, either, but Katerina's having a hard time warding off the influence of Danilo's seductive powers. As Katerina continues to investigate, she delves into the history of the faery courts and discovers that she may hold the key to stopping the evil that threatens everything she holds dear--and that there are many who want to make sure she never gets the chance.

This was a pretty addictive read. There's never a dull moment and Robin Bridges gets a big thumbs up for creativity. Katerina is a great character and Grand Duke George is a real hunk when he's not being a butthead. St. Petersburg has always captured my imagination, and it is brought to life magnificently in this lush novel. The balls, the gowns, the uniforms, the jewels, the architecture, the food, the sounds, the scents--it's just gorgeous and combined with the folklore superstitions and murderous plot, it has a spooky, gothic feel. The description and ambiance are good enough to help me overlook the fact that, for the most part, the story is pretty fluffy and that it has a huge cast of confusing characters and more than it's fair share of over-dramatic moments. But it is deliciously fun! I devoured it.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references an advance digital copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

1 comment:

  1. So this one is now definitely going on my wish list. Great review!

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