Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

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?

Firstly, it's set in Russia. In the late 1800's. The main character is over the upper class, she's a duchess. COOL, RIGHT? No way I could resist this book. There's a bit in the beginning about the Russian names that are used, and I just love saying them outloud. They sound so pretty and elegant! The main character is Katerina Alexandrovna- say it out loud, and then tell me that's not pretty.

So now that I'm done being a word-nerd...
Combine the facts that it's set in the late 1800's (there's that time period me and Megan love) is historical fiction, has the fancy balls of the Victorian courts, as well as some magic and supernatural-ness, (Ok, a lot of the supernatural-ness) and you've got one pretty amazing book.

One thing that I found really cool about this book was the way fantasy, magic and the supertnatural were mixed in. It wasn't just willy-nilly random, it had a point. All of the creatures and the way the magic worked and everything was actually from Russian myths and legends. Pretty much, the author turned what was Russian myths into the real history of this world. It was vampires and the undead like I've never read them before. (that's a compliment, not like how the vampires in Twilight were just completely re-invented to be all sparkly and immortal)

Being a bit more technical, the characters were all very well-thought out. Katerina the main character, is another one of those female heroines that would be among the best kind of heroines- Hermione, Katniss, Tamora Pierces' heroines- the kick-ass kind. If Katerina didn't like something, she went out and fixed it, quite literally. When she had to get to a doctor to help a friend, she snuck out of her boarding school at night and walked through the streets of Oldenburg to get to a hospital, risking suspension or expulsion from her school. The only thing that I didn't like so much about her was that some of her decisions or logic didn't make a lot of sense.

Other characters that I really liked were George Alexandrovich, one of the grand-dukes, Daryia, Katiya's cousin, Petya, Katiya's brother, Katiya's parents, the doctor. This book also had those bad characters that you love to hate, just like Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter.

Also, the way Robin Bridges wrote about character relationships was really vivid. Katiya and her family, her friends, her enemies, they are all very easy to relate to even if you have never had a relationship like that. Robing Bridges created tension, attraction, friendship, hostility, irritation and so many other things in such a way that you could feel it yourself, as if you were Katerina.

I only had two problems with this book. The first was that, because the names aren't ones I'm familiar with (as in, they aren't names that I know and aren't commonly found in English) it made it harder for me to keep track of some of the minor characters, especially at the beginning when many people were introduced. (There did seem to be too many characters at times.) After that, it just took a bit of double-checking sometimes. 

The other problem is that the synopsis hinted at more romance then there was. Now, I'm perfectly fine with the amount that it did have, it just always irks me when the synopsis is misleading. It's possibly one of my biggest pet peeves.

The Good: The setting, the plot, the characters. Plus George.
The Bad: Slight synopsis slip-up. Say that five times fast!
The Verdict: 5/5
I would recommend this to: Anyone who likes the supernatural, historical fiction, girl-power girls, European settings, darker fantasy,

And now excuse me while I go back to staring out the window at this freak summer lightning storm + absolute downpour of rain. Really, the thunder is so loud I can actually feel it. Freaky stuff. It's been about an hour and a half so far, and still going strong. Cross your fingers I don't get struck by lightning! Knock on wood...



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