21 March 2012
The Gathering Storm - Robin Bridges
Number of pages: 386
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Yound Readers
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?
I just loved everything about this book, from its historical setting to its paranormal aspects! I've always been fascinated by anything related to Russia and the Tsars era (you know the story about Anastasia and the Romanov family) so it doesn't come as a surprise that I enjoyed this book, A LOT! I was also really captivated by the way that Bridges incorporated the paranormal into the historical aspects resulting in a unputdownable book.
The Gathering Storm tells the story of Katerina Alexandrovna, a girl who dreams of becoming a doctor even through she must do what the society expects of her: marry someone of importance and be a good wife. But there is more to Katerina than meets the eye, besides having to abide by the rules of old society and trying to hold on to her dream, she also has to hide her curse (or gift?!) if she wants to live a normal life.
Katerina surely is one of the best protagonist I've read in while. She is smart, ambitious but sensible and sweet. I loved that she is not like the girls at her school who just want to go to balls and marry some rich prince. Even though it's almost a prohibited thing for a woman to work instead of marrying someone, she keeps trying to turn her dreams into reality and doesn't give up learning as much as she can about medicine.
She keeps her power hidden at all costs in order to not be exploited and she also has this strange notion that using her power will bring her to the dark side. But one day she uses her power to save someone and ends up being found out by some people who try to blackmail her into using her power in their interest.
The Grand Duke George Alexandrovich was a really interesting and distinct character. I loved that the romance rather took some time to bloom rather than being a instant-romance like many other books.
Some other awesome things worth mentioning about this book is that everything is totally unexpected. I was very surprised when while reading I found out that Katerina's necromancy thing wasn't the only paranormal aspect in this book. Actually the book is filled with supernatural creatures, which only made me adore this book more. And I have to praise Bridges' ability of somehow connecting every family in this book together making everyone an important character.
There were some things that I think Bridges could have done better like the leading up to the ending and it bothers me a bit when characters are forced to do something against their will because the enemy is threatening some family member or lover. Katerina also frustrated me a bit sometimes; there were moments that I think she could have done something to avoid so many other problems and also she was so naïve about loving George (though she was really cynical about falling in love). Nevertheless these critics weren't enough for me to give this novel less than 4 stars!
The Gathering Storm brings something brand new to the YA genre and I can't wait to read the second installment in this trilogy. I could never resist a book with so much awesomeness in it: magic, intrigue, historical setting, paranormal aspects and of course romance!