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?
Discovery: Which nine-year-old girl in the 1990s wasn’t obsessed with Anastasia? Is it any wonder that as soon as I heard about this reinvention of Imperial Russia, I jumped on the chance to read it?
+ Setting. It’s been close to 200 years since Russia was ruled by a glittering monarchy, but it seems as though the world’s fascination with this mysterious country hasn’t faded. As a kid, I loved reading about the palaces and summer homes that the nobility traveled to, and the holidays they celebrated. The Gathering Storm does a marvelous job of painting that world for its readers. Unlike the stoic British Empire and its ilk, the Russia we read about in Bridges’ novel is volatile and dangerous. You can almost hear the ice crackling in conversations between the royals, and the tension in each scene is perfectly set.
– Narration. With such a dizzying cast of characters and longer names than most readers are used to seeing on the page , The Gathering Storm needed a strong voice to leap off the page and guide the reader (and make the constant repetition of _____ ______vna a little less tedious). I liked Katiya the moment I met her, but sadly, her voice was drowned out by the story. The narration isn’t as tightly written as it could have been. At times, it feels as though Katiya is simply repeating what she’s heard from other people instead of taking control of the story. She is an interesting character, but the writing doesn’t reflect enough of that uniqueness. It also makes me wonder why Danilo is written as an all-powerful force and someone Katiya cannot ignore. She’s rather scathing and fearful of him when he’s not around. I’m hoping that the second book will give Katiya more control over her fate.
The final say: Bridges does a wonderful job of setting up a terrifying world of intrigue and supernatural creatures, and I’ll definitely be picking up The Unfailing Light!