Book Review: The Gathering Storm

Book Review: The Gathering StormThe Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
Series: Katerina #1
Published by Delacorte Books on January 10th 2012
Pages: 400
Goodreads

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?

Romanovs… paranormal elements… together? My toes were tingling with anticipation.
 
The Gathering Storm plays beautifully on my love for the Romanov family and Russian history. The setting for our story is about as perfect as it can get. Russia, 1800s. A time when this society was at its peak: glittering balls, nobility coming out of every nook and cranny, a time of decadence.
 
Originally, I thought The Gathering Storm was centered Tsar Nicholas II and his family, but I was off by about a generation. Instead of an older Nicholas II, readers are presented with his father's court and Nicholas II as a teenager. While most of my Russian fascination is centered around Nicholas II when he was Tsar, I was completely entranced by him as a teen. In addition to the royal family, Bridges flexes her historical muscle by including a slew of other nobles. Many of whose names I completely forgot seconds after reading. It is not that some of these characters are not memorable, but rather I got a bit bogged down by all the titles. Loved Bridges authentication, but had a strong aversion to the multitude of characters who:
 
A.) Were constantly just mentioned in passing, yet had nothing real to add to the story.
 
OR
 
B.) Regardless that the character's title was just mentioned in the last paragraph, in the new paragraph, it has been mentioned at least twice more.
 
It was just a little much. Yes, I know that historically, Bridges was spot on. Titles were EVERYTHING to these people, and heaven save you, if you did not address someone correctly. So again, loved that Brides obviously did her research, I just wish that it had not weighed so heavy on the book.
 
Moving on.
 
Besides the setting, Katerina made The Gathering Storm sparkle. In world of simpering misses with nary a thought in their beautiful heads, Katerina stands out for all the right reasons. True, some of her choices were not the greatest, but at the end of the day, she had her head in the right place. Katerina valued education. When most of her female conterparts are only focused on finding a husband, this girl is partitioning to become a doctor. Kudos to you.
 
Final Verdict:
 
The Gathering Storm is a beautiful multi-layered tale. Historically rich. A MC that defies the sterotypes of what a girl of her standing should be. And a paranormal layer that added a nice twist to the tale. Bridges definitely has a winner with this one.
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2 responses to “Book Review: The Gathering Storm

  1. Sara Kovach

    I totally agree with everything you said! The Gathering Storm is my favorite by far this year of all that I have read! The blending of the historical with the paranormal – wowed me!! Robin Bridges is a wonderful writer.

  2. I love, love, LOVE this book! It’s actually one of my only 5-star reviews. 🙂

    While most of my Russian fascination is centered around Nicholas II when he was Tsar, I was completely entranced by him as a teen.
    YES! Even though I had hoped Nicholas would have been mentioned, I never thought he’d actually be a character! Oh man, I squeeled in delight when he was first introduced. & his interactions were Alix were so insanely adorable.

    I totally agree with the names/titles. With the main characters I did okay, but the secondary characters were another story. Especially when someone was only referred to by their title. So confusing at times.

    My only complaint was that there were so many supernatural elements. Necromancy, werewolves, vampires, magical powers, fairies, etc.

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