The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges
Published Date: October 9th 2012
My rating: 5 out of 5
Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.
The First 20%
We start with a sneaky Prologue that at the time of reading means nothing but an awful tragedy. Gradually you begin to realise that the enemy of the Tsar, Konstantin, is involved, albeit with his daughter--and suddenly we're cast back into the wonderful story that began with The Gathering Storm. We know things are going to go array almost immediately when Katiya glimpses Grand Duke George Alexandrovich whilst she's on holiday with her family. After a few heart-fluttering moments he insists that she return to Smolny, her school, instead of attending University in Zurich which happens to be her lifetime ambition. While the Grand Duke insists it is only for her safety, Katiya is unsure and feels like the Imperial family are holding her against her will, even forbidding her to leave the school. Things take a turn for the worse when Katiya accidently comes across an ancient throne hidden in some caves and reads out loud the decription written in an ancient language. She's transported to a place called the Graylands-an inbetween place of life and death-where she comes face to face with the dreaded Konstantin (wannabe/was Tsar). She escapes with the help of an unknown young man.
Eventually her holidays end and she does indeed return to Smolny. But things are different there also. Now there's a ghost to deal with and the secretive Princess Alix.
The Main Characters
Katarina Alexandrovich, or Katiya, continues her adventures as she did in the last. She never once thinks for herself, always of others. And there's no point in mystery or intrigue in her life because she will immediately dive into them whatever way she can to solve them.
The one thing I do love is that she epitomises Russian High Society, she's very well educated and always on the lookout for more interesting foreign texts to read, always wanting to learn more. But the quaintness floods in every now and again. Sometimes she doubts that someone such as George can really hold her heart. She hopes it's true. Gradually through the story she hears tales of what George is doing in Paris and it's not all good.
I loved the first book, and eagerly awaited this one's release. The story is centred around Smolny again. We have more characters from the school coming into the story. Now we have were-wolves, vampires, the undead revenants, dark and light faeries and our own heroine as a Necromancer. We also hear about the antics of Katiya's brother and the various Order's. As we go on we also begin to doubt who is sincere and who is being traitorous. The clues are all there, and there are more than a few surprises. Suffice to say that i loved this book. Anything to do with Imperial Russia holds my interest, and the author did a fantastic job of informing us and spinning us a great yarn.
Oh boy. It's always about a boy, isn't it? George is seriously injured. As he walks away from Katiya I'm seriously wanting to know what happens next!! It isn't going to be good because the enemies are all still alive!
It took less than a day for me to devour this. I had only one moment, around 30%, where I was wondering which direction the story would take. However, I continued and was so far in without realising. Brilliant, amazing world-building, fun glittering balls, handsome love interest-what's not to like!!
You can reach Robin Bridges here: