Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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?

Being a European, and very inquisitive (!) I loved reading about the Romanovs, Imperial Russia and the European family tree when I was younger. This part of Russia history was always fascinating especially the balls, the polite society rules and the politics that go with it.
So, for me, it was an absolute delight to read this book. The author has kept very close to the rules of titles i.e. what to call each nobility, the etiquette, and the traditions which I loved. Unlike other reviewers I didn't think it was that difficult to keep up with the who's who of characters and how they were all related. I particularly liked the twist of faeries (light and dark), vampires, and werewolves that all basically stem from darker and older European history also.

The plot was great. The story flows very well and the danger increases gradually and at a nice pace. Katerina was a little too naive in some places especially when she's handed the Necromancer's Companion and has no wish to read it regardless of being a Necromancer herself. Sometimes she's amazingly strong and ambitious with her quest in the medical profession but other times she lets her youth and naivety get in the way, particularly when it comes to Elena and her family. Her relationship with George intrigued me from the beginning and without giving any spoilers suffice to say it wasn't an instant romance, which I enjoyed.

Overall I found it a fantastic read, as long as everyone can get past the numerous characters titles and past history of the supernatural beings, this should be one that doesn't get put away on the shelf unread.

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