Author: Robin Bridges
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: Jan 10 2012
The Gathering Storm is author Robin Bridges first novel.
It tells the story of sixteen year old Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg. Katiya, as her family calls her, longs to be a doctor. She's wanted nothing more since her younger brother died as a baby. But Katiya lives in the late ninteenth century in Russia, a time when women were supposed to stay at home with the children, not go to medical school. Katiya is not only gifted with an intense love of science and medicine, but she also has a supernatural gift, or curse as she sees it. She is a necromancer, a powerful being who can control life and death itself. She doesn't know much about her gift other than that she can raise the dead, and she must forever keep her secret safe. But when people begin to realize just what she is capable of Katiya is thrust into a secret world that she thought existed only in old legends and fairytales. Vampires, fairies, an undead army. They all want something from Katiya, something sinister. It will take all of her power and a lot of luck to overcome the obstacles she faces.
I loved this book! I needed to put that out there. I smiled to myself through most of it. I probably looked like a total weirdo, but that's fine. I was having too much fun reading about Katiya and her world.
Katiya was a wonderful heroine. She was strong and refused to give in to the will of others, even though her situation seemed hopeless. Yes, there were times when she did stupid things or made bad decisions, but everyone does from time to time. And what would a book be without a few misguided decisions? But for the most part Katiya was strong and did what she needed to do to help herself and her family. Some of her reasoning seemed off to me at times, and I thought that if she had communicated more openly with her family some of her problems might have been avoided or at least less severe, but overall I enjoyed reading about Katiya.
Now here's the part where I talk about the love interest. Oh, Georgi! I fell in love with him pretty much right away. The tsar's son, Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, reminded me (more than a little) of a Russian Mr. Darcy. You know, if Mr. Darcy had ever carried a sword around and chopped undead folk's heads off. He was infuriating (-ly adorable) and stubborn and absolutely perfect for Katiya. I found myself waiting for him to show up, probably as much as Katiya was. I appreciated how they didn't just see each other and fall in love on the spot. (Insta-love can be so boring sometimes.) George distrusted Katiya, and Katiya thought George wasn't very nice himself. But their interactions kept me reading page after page.
Katiya's biggest problem throughout the book was that she was stuck in the box royal society had placed her in. The only person who she knew she could trust, Grand duke George, wasn't allowed to be left alone with her. Not for very long anyway. They didn't have free reign to run around St. Petersburg solving the mysteries they were presented. The only people Katiya was able to talk to we're the ones she knew were evil. All in their own ways of course, but still. Evil is evil. How do you trust someone you know has a stake in the bad things that are happening around you? How do you know which of the bad guys is telling you more truths than the other? How can you possibly tell which is the lesser evil? Usually something like that would annoy me, mostly because the heroine would naively trust someone and think that they're intentions were honorable. But not Katyia. She didn't really trust anyone. Not even George. Not really. She was always afraid of what he would think of her if he knew the extent of her powers. Which is another thing that would usually annoy me, but didn't. Not trusting a guy with all of your secrets when he threatens you with death for just some of those secrets? Yeah. I probably wouldn't either.
I've always had this romantic view of old Russia and The Gathering Storm just totally made my day. Even though the St. Petersburg in the novel is rife with supernatural creatures, I think Robin Bridges did a fantastic job weaving in the paranormal with the mundane so that the city still seemed realistic. If you're a fan of urban fantasy or historical fiction you'll want to read this book.
I highly recommend reading The Katerina Trilogy: The Gathering Storm. It's like reading a fairy tale and will have you up late into the night, reading about the magic and intrigue of Bridge's Russia. And I will be anxiously awaiting the sequel! I need more Katiya and George!