Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: 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.With the combination of historical and paranormal elements plus a beautiful cover, The Gathering Storm is the kind of book I adore. In theory. In reality, this book did not deliver for me like I wanted it to.
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?
Prior to reading, I thought The Gathering Storm was a historical novel with some paranormal elements, but it’s more of a paranormal novel in a historical setting. Almost all the characters are fey, witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies or necromancers with our main character, Katerina, being one of the most powerful necromancers in Russia.
The historical setting of Tsarist Russia is wonderful: the balls, glittering jewels and gorgeous dresses are wonderfully described. Robin Bridges also does a good job of introducing really interesting folklore to the story line and for using real people from history in her story. These are the elements that I liked. Unfortunately, there are more that I did not.
Katerina has known about her supernatural ability since she was a child and she has taken great care to hide it from everyone. She is a person of science, wanting to be a doctor, an occupation that was not thought to be inappropriate for a woman at that time. While Katerina is book smart and has bravely chosen and unpopular occupation (which I admire), she does some really stupid things.
She has a hard time believing that other supernatural beings exist even though as a necromancer, she is one of them. She is repeatedly warned about a certain family and seen members of the family doing evil things including hurt her own family and friends, yet she still hangs out with them so as not to upset them. Katerina is also specifically warned that a certain boy is evil and is given a talisman to help protect her from him, but she falls victim to him anyway because she only wears the talisman sporadically. She gets really angry at people who tell her she can’t be a doctor because she is a woman, but is annoyingly meek to the people who blackmail, kidnap, drug and use her as a blood donor for their crazy rituals.
Most of these issues stem from Katerina believing that she can fix everything herself and refusing to tell those close to her what’s going on or ask for help. I’m so frustrated with book-smart girls who make dumb decisions and bury themselves in deeper and deeper. You know this girl, she has been showing up more and more in YA books lately.
I don’t like bashing books, especially from hard working debut authors, so I won’t keep nitpicking at all the things that frustrated me about The Gathering Storm. While it’s not a bad book, it had all the ingredients to be an awesome read, it just did not deliver for me. I think I’m so disappointed because I had such high expectations for it. If you read it without expectations, you will probably enjoy it more than I did.
Content: Kissing and violence.
My Rating: Disappointing