Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Get a copy! B&N | Amazon
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.Katerina was a character that I was intrigued by from the beginning. Her skills as a necromancer set her apart from many other YA heroines. I've read lots of books with witches and dragons and shifters and vampires and fey...but a necromancer struck me as something new and different. She's also a strong young woman who wants to be a doctor, something relatively unheard of during this time period and actually banned in Russia, and I liked that she defied stereotypes while still going along with the societal customs that were expected of her.
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?
The cast of characters in this book is also nothing to scoff at. There is a lot going on with a lot of different people, which you might think could be overwhelming. However, Ms. Bridges successfully wove each character into her story and made them memorable enough that I was generally not confused about who was doing what and what was going on. Even in the large cast, she was also able to make certain characters really stand out and draw your attention, like the Crown Prince Danilo, Katerina's cousin, Dariya, and the Grand Duke George.
The Gathering Storm wasn't perfect. I found myself sometimes thrown by the amount of magic going on in the society and the accepted presence of fey and vampires throughout. Also, while I wanted there to be romance between Katerina and George, I found myself a bit taken aback by how it seemed to come out of nowhere (or possibly to come on a little too intensely) when it did happen. Despite these minor setbacks, I'm excited to read more in this series because the setting and characters truly captured my imagination. I'm excited to see where Katerina's journey will take her and what future struggles, both magical and personal, she will endure. Thankfully it looks like the sequel will come out later in 2012!