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The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. I: The Gathering…
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The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. I: The Gathering Storm (edition 2012)

by Robin Bridges

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1613774,103 (3.65)1
avry15's review
originally appeared on:Bookshelf Confessions

From the very first page I was hooked with the story. But first I’d liked to talk about the cover. The cover is nice, it’s just that the girl on it doesn’t look like a YA heroine at all (I presumed this is Katerina). I honestly liked the 2nd book’s cover than this one.

On to the book. At first I thought this is a historical book, but after reading, I think this is more of a paranormal novel set in a historical setting. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the Russian Empire with the fusion of superstitious beliefs; faeries in the royal court, witches casting spells, vampires, rituals and more.

Ms. Bridges really researched this book well, some of the characters are real historical people. I also loved her description about Russian balls, clothes, jewelries, culture, folklore and traditions. I was easily transported in a world where history meets fantasy. It was a mixture I hadn’t had a hard time loving and submerging myself into.

I liked the plot, though not entirely unique, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the first book I read with teens on a historical setting, plus the paranormal theme . Also, there are a lot of things going on the book, there’s no boring moment > which explains why I didn’t put the book down until the very last page..:D

I really liked Katerina too and I presumed her dreams of becoming a doctor someday was based on the current job and passion of Ms. Bridges, a pediatric nurse. In a time, when girls are expected to only marry and produce heirs, listening to Katiya’s voice which longs to pursue her dreams is fascinating. I sometimes got annoyed with her decisions especially when she thinks she could handle it all by herself, stubborn and brave, a deadly combination.:)… Though the reason was to protect her family, country and the boy she loves, she just got on my nerve sometimes. But it just made her a real character.

I also loved all the characters. Each of them served his purpose well. It’s just that some of them are not that developed to their fullest. It’s not messy, it’s more like there are a lot of information to digest. Count Chermensky’s death would have been tragic, I just wished that through Katiya’s narrative, she’d made us see too, how the Count protected her up to the last minute.

The author had been busy presenting us the plot too, there’s little on the love story development. And by the way, it might look like a love triangle’s brewing based on the description above, but there isn’t anything like that (I think)- I and Katerina hate one of them. I didn’t quite feel the romantic side of this book, not until the later part. I would have liked *spoiler (well, not really since you don’t know who)* the proposal part, but it was quite bland, like someone says Marry Me without dating first. It was a little bit rushed in that part. I like the animosity between them at first, it would have develop into a great love story. Well, maybe there’s more to see in the romantic side of this book at the sequel since there’s a promise of the development of the chemistry/love between the protagonists.

Even though I don’t feel quite antagonistic about Russian names. The author drops a lot of long Russian names here, I had a hard time figuring who’s who, though that didn’t deter me from enjoying the book. Good thing too, the author gives us an explanation about the Russian names at the very first page.

I do like to learn more of these superstitious beliefs, it seems there’s a lot of these in this book. The author missed to really explain what are veshtizas, House of Bessaraba, The Dekebristi, Vladiki- I think it would be better, to have a Character Guide, or a prequel about Russia’s supposed to be past situation.

All in all, this had been an enjoying and wonderful read. For the few hours that I’ve read the book, I was in Katerina’s world. Can’t wait to read more of Katerina’s adventure and especially how her love story flows. I will be looking for the next book, “The Unfailing Light”.

Would highly recommend this to anyone especially to fans of YA historical and paranormal. ( )
  avry15 | Apr 5, 2012 |
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I expected this book to be more historical, but I couldn't have been more wrong. There were fae, vampires. witches, you name it. Katerina with her crazy long last name, is a necromancer and forced to go to balls and dance and look pretty…so that she can essentially land herself a husband. I liked the balls and all the glittering jewels and such, I think that may be the only reason I kept reading. What I didn't like were a lot of things. First off, the character of Katerina annoyed me. She kept falling for Prince Danilo when he was obviously bad and the Princess warned her countless times of that. Secondly, the men. I like my boy characters. I did not like George Alexandrovich. He was standoffish and rude. Third, just words and no action. Nothing important ever seemed to happen. The only thing ever described in this book was the long names of all her family or people they were related to which just downright confused me. Overall, I wouldn't recommend reading this series. ( )
  alexis909 | Jan 13, 2014 |
I love me some good historical fiction. Throw in some good paranormal elements and you've got me hooked. This book had both! WOO!

I was attracted initially by the premise of magic in Imperial Russia. History is my content area for my Elementary Ed certification, and Russia in particular. So I know the era. I know the legends and I know the superstitions. I love it when a book gets it right. This one got it right. It was a glittering whirlwind of social functions, romance, and imperial intrigue, just like Russia in the late 1800s. The Russians were very superstitious and believed in the occult and magic. I really liked that Bridges incorporated these things into her book.

I loved Katerina and Daryia and I loved that they were strong female characters. I loved that Katerina was determined to enter medical school no matter what. I loved that she didn't swoon over the hot guys (and in fact, had conflict with them) and kept her head in difficult situations (for the most part...one can only do so much against magic).

I really loved the story. I was so caught up in it that I read the book in 1 day and wished I had the time for another read-through. The book had to go to its next home after I finished, but no worries...I'm totally getting a copy for myself.

I loved the flow of the story. It didn't have any of the plot jumpiness that drives me insane. It was seamless, fast-paced, and awesome. The supernatural elements didn't feel forced-they just fit in nicely because the Imperial Russians really did believe in that stuff. It really felt like reading a really fantastically written history book. Weird, I know.

My only complaint?

I have to wait for the next book in the series. I don't want to wait. I want it NOW! And then the next one after that too.

I really, really liked this one...it gets a 'Pick Me' rating for awesomeness! ( )
  emmyson | Oct 9, 2013 |
Not an outstanding or particularly plucky or memorable heroine, but a cute read. ( )
  seekayou | Aug 20, 2013 |

This is a review of an ARC edition and quotes/excerpts may therefore differ from the final copy.

May contain minor spoilers.

I have sat on the idea of reviewing Robin Bridges' The Gathering Storm for more than a month, partly due to the dire feeling of complete ineptitude that only college can arouse. Yes, tiredness and the resounding urge to do nothing are pests that have bothered me—again—these last several months, but to find the motivation to review this book is not at all a good descriptor for my reading experience. Unlike the amount of time it took for me to scrap slivers of inspiration aided by an impulsive push to review, I was quick to saddle in and whizz through Katerina’s journey. The experience sped by quickly, if only because I find Bridges' writing both addicting and fun. That is not to say, however, that The Gathering Storm is without flaw.

Set in an alternate Imperial Russia, in which we encounter illustrious monsters of night—vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies—and faeries, The Gathering Storm follows young Duchess Katerina Alexandrovna. Apart from her debutant life, caught in the glitz and glam of royals and high society, Katerina desperately wishes to pocket away her “curse.” Since childhood, Katerina has known that she possesses a necromancer’s power; though it is considered a malignant ability—a skill that risks great consequence should anyone discover it. But with one selfless act—an attempt to spare the Tsarevich from a wicked spell—she acquires attention from few unwelcomed parties who learn her secret. The lengths some will go, as Katerina learns, to have necromancy in their grasp while others rebuke it...

The royal family and bloodlines become prey of an old but rising evil as it builds through St. Petersburg, a threat to the Tsar himself. Stuck in the midst of it all—feuds and falsehoods wrapped in conspiracy—stands one particular Katerina Alexandrovna. Mysterious and terrifying events follow as the dead awaken and death strikes the Imperial Order of St. John. Amongst crossfire, Katerina struggles to embrace an unnatural power that may be the key in protecting innocent lives. But how can she accept this dark magic as a part of her when others condemn it (and her) so willingly?

This was horribly wrong. I ran inside, ignoring the mud on my nightgown, ignoring my dirty bare feet. Too frightened to step quietly, I made a terrible racket racing up the main stairs and knocked one of Maman’s favorite cloisonné-studded icons from the wall. I did not stop to retrieve the broken frame. I just kept running.

If I am to take an issue with The Gathering Storm, the abundance of minor characters is the first target I shoot at. However trivial, too many names tossed in bunched clusters not only makes it difficult to follow, but frustrating as well. They exist in numbers that form a giant wave daring to damper the plot, pacing, and reader interest. The set of these characters fail to bear significance to the plot or main cast, and as such, I quickly learned to discard them. Now, where there is a wealth in characters, I also find a fantastical world that lacks in richness.

What I took note of as I read is this book’s potential. It screams out from the page, and I can see how—perhaps if Bridges spent more time developing not only her world, but the characters and creatures—The Gathering Storm might have met its readers a few levels up from where it resides. In no way am I saying this book is poorly constructed, but there are certain instances where the story falls flat or where characters lack range and expansion. Sprinkle in extra thought to the writing process and scratch pages up in revision lines, and I think a stronger story could be told. By power of Almighty Pen & Ink, give me development! Give me variety!

Take, for example, Prince George. Although I look upon his character with fondness, I only spot two extremes with nothing in between to explain how he moves from one end to the other. How can he feel such strong repulsion for another person yet still find himself attracted? Because if he isn’t busy reminding Katerina how dark magic has tainted her, he is showing her faint signs of warmth and concern. If anything, I hope to see more of him the following books if only to see his character mature. …Well, there is that, and there is also that matter of Katerina’s love triangle, which—I must say—doesn’t exactly feel like a love triangle. (Regardless, my Team George merchandise is ready.)

In few ways, I feel grateful toward Robin Bridges. How often do readers encounter the frustrations of love triangles? Instead of watching Bridges’ protagonist run back and forth between two suitors and alternating affections, it’s matter of: One-sided love... or not?

Charmed by Prince Danilo, Katerina is locked under his spell, but she has the wits to resist and even reject his marriage proposal. From thereon, it turns into an issue of Danilo forcefully making the Duchess comply to his will. It is, after all, her necromancy that he truly seeks. Isn’t it? It is clear that Danilo and Katerina share no mutual feeling other than loathing, at least in this book. The question becomes, then, whether or not Prince George will ever tolerate Katerina’s presence.

Katerina herself is wonderful character to admire as well. Although her opposition toward learning about her ability frustrated me, I respect her strong will. She is a steaming little firecracker with a kind heart, who loves her family, and who has a mind of her own. Katerina can think for herself and fights for her dream to be a doctor—a profession deemed inappropriate for women by old traditions—and these are qualities I like in a heroine. If only, if only—Robin Bridges!—Katerina’s strengths had been of use in the end battle! It feels like this scene was written in haste, which results in a rushed conclusion where the main character did not shine.

I still recommend other readers give The Gathering Storm a try anyhow. In particular, I especially suggest this for fans of Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly or of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone. Of the three, I believe Bardugo has the strongest writing, but the similarities between Bridges’ book and the previously two mentioned novels is undeniable: fast, addicting, Russian-based, high class, and necromancy. The Gathering Storm essentially comes out as mash-up of the two.

Like Dennard's novel, Bridges plunges readers into her world. Either this will work for you or not at all, but with such a light, quick pace and style, I found myself hooked. Addicted. One moment my eyes were glossing page one, and before I knew it I'd happily finished the book. If you so choose, I hope you discover that you enjoy The Gathering Storm as much as I do despite its flaws.

Death would be dancing with us at the ball that night.
I crossed myself and prayed it would touch no one I loved.

This review and more can be read at Midnight Coffee Monster. ( )
  the_airtwit | May 19, 2013 |
Katerina is Russian royalty. She has the power to bring the dead back to life. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Apr 8, 2013 |
Russian in the late 19th century...the land of the Romanovs, the Winter Palace, Faberge...not to mention vampires, faeries and necromancers. 16 year old Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg isn't interested in balls or making a marriage to a handsome, rich Royal - she wants to become a doctor, despite the fact that the old-fashioned Tsar does not allow women to enter medical school. But Katerina has a bigger problem than finding out how to follow her chosen career path: she is a necromancer, with the power to bring the dead to life. She's tried to keep her ability - for which she could be exiled or even sentenced to death - a secret, but two people know about it. George Alexandrovich, the middle son of the Tsar, who doesn't approve of Katerina, and the sinister and bewitching Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro, who wants to make Katerina his bride and use her powers for his own gain.

There were some small plot points I had issues with, mostly the normal YA paranormal issues, but all in all I felt the romance was well developed despite a quick start. I wished Katerina had stayed bit more in thrall of Danilo, because that's more fun, but on the other hand, I was annoyed when she first dismissed the warnings about him so easily, so I guess this way was fine, after all. The bookish heroine who hates balls, dresses, etc is a trope I don't really like, but I ended up liking Katerina a lot.

I really liked the atmosphere, and the setting, and the book was very compulsively readable - I finished it in a day!

I'll definitely be picking up the sequel! ( )
  shojo_a | Apr 4, 2013 |
Russian in the late 19th century...the land of the Romanovs, the Winter Palace, Faberge...not to mention vampires, faeries and necromancers. 16 year old Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg isn't interested in balls or making a marriage to a handsome, rich Royal - she wants to become a doctor, despite the fact that the old-fashioned Tsar does not allow women to enter medical school. But Katerina has a bigger problem than finding out how to follow her chosen career path: she is a necromancer, with the power to bring the dead to life. She's tried to keep her ability - for which she could be exiled or even sentenced to death - a secret, but two people know about it. George Alexandrovich, the middle son of the Tsar, who doesn't approve of Katerina, and the sinister and bewitching Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro, who wants to make Katerina his bride and use her powers for his own gain.

There were some small plot points I had issues with, mostly the normal YA paranormal issues, but all in all I felt the romance was well developed despite a quick start. I wished Katerina had stayed bit more in thrall of Danilo, because that's more fun, but on the other hand, I was annoyed when she first dismissed the warnings about him so easily, so I guess this way was fine, after all. The bookish heroine who hates balls, dresses, etc is a trope I don't really like, but I ended up liking Katerina a lot.

I really liked the atmosphere, and the setting, and the book was very compulsively readable - I finished it in a day!

I'll definitely be picking up the sequel! ( )
  shojo_a | Apr 4, 2013 |
Set during the late-1800s in Russia, Katerina is a Russian noble with the secret power of necromancy. She learns to embrace her power in order to save the emperor of Russia from being overthrown by an evil family. This book had WAY too much going on--in addition Katerina's necromancy, we learn that most of the Russian nobles have special powers. There were fairies, witches, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and zombies thrown in for good measure. The sheer number of characters combined with the fact that Russian names are all very similar made me want to throw the book down in frustration. I would not recommend reading this book and I won't be reading the rest of the series. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Apr 3, 2013 |
There's no doubt that this is a unique book. I certainly haven't read any other books with a similar subject. Honestly, I do not yet know how I feel about this book. I definitely enjoyed reading it, and I found the story compelling. However, the setting and the mythology here is also really weird, so weird, in fact, that I had difficulty settling into the rhythm of the story.

Also, I do not really like Katerina. I do like her passion for medicine and the fact that she is determined to become a doctor, even though it seems pretty much impossible for her to do so. However, why does she always almost swoon when anything gross happens? Umm, as a doctor, she'll need to not do that. Another good quality of hers is that she doesn't want to be forced into marriage or fulfilling her social role. What bothered me, though, was that for all her lofty ideals and moral fortitude, she didn't apply herself. She has so much power, but does not make good use of it. To be a doctor, she must be smart, but she doesn't act that way much of the time.

Still, I did really like Georgi, the Grand Duke. He has a very Darcy air about him that, unsurprisingly, thrills me.

I definitely plan to read more of this series. Hopefully, Katerina will make better use of her awesome qualities, there will be more Georgi and the paranormal stuff will be further explained. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |

I picked up this book because, well...look at the cover! Isn’t it beautiful? I also have developed an interest in Russian history since reading Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. This one also involves an element of fantasy; something which might have prevented me from reading it if I had realized this before. I’m glad I didn’t, because this was a really good book!
Katerina is a member of Russian nobility, and living at a boarding school. She has a secret she has been keeping from her family; she is a necromancer. She has a gift, or is it a curse, that allows her to raise from the dead. As it turns out, most of the nobility possess paranormal qualities; there are vampires, faeries, and more in this book, forming alliances in effort to overpower the others. Katherine is torn between two princes. She has feelings for the Tsar’s son, George, a faerie, but becomes engaged to the Prince of Montenegro, a vampire. Katerina must make a choice to align herself with one force or the other. The novel is full of magic and suspense and I enjoyed it very much. This book is the first in a trilogy. I can’t wait to read the second book! ( )
  Time2Read2 | Mar 31, 2013 |
The Gathering Storm is the debut novel of Robin Bridges and the first in her Katerina Trilogy. Bridges' paranormal novel delivers, from the historical aspects of Russia to the supernatural. This was a delightful tale of vampires, fairies, werewolves, witches, necromancers and other supernatural creatures. A combination of Russian history and folklore make this an exciting, addictive read.

The protagonist Is Katerina Alexandrovna, she is the Duchess of Oldenburg, residing in Russia during the reign of Tsar Alexander III. Katerina is a necromancer, but she views this as a curse. She attempts to hide her gift and wants no part in using the ability. Once as a small child she used it, to save her mother’s cat, but she quickly realized the cat was wrong. Since she hasn’t even told her parents her secret, she understands very little about her ability and is fearful to share it with anyone.

Katerina is attending finishing school. A school which is more concerned with ballroom dancing then studies. Katerina longs to attend medical school at a time when woman are banned from being doctors. Her dearest friends are more concerned with catching the eye of the highest titled and richest young man. Katerina has been inspired by the first woman in the field and daydreams of going abroad to study. Alas, she has been born to an era where alliances and families’ incomes are dependent on securing good marriages for their daughters.

In a world filled with balls, gorgeous gowns, ballet, and musicals there is a dark underbelly filled with witches, vampires, werewolves and Fae all vying to secure their place. Katerina attracts the attentions of a powerful family, when she uses her gift to save a member of the royal family. As this family attempts to secure power, they use their skills to lure Katerina. Their young son uses his power and threats to woo her. At the same time she attracts the attentions of George (the Tsar’s middle son). He pledges to keep her safe, but she is constantly getting herself into trouble trying to solve things, and of course the young vampire Prince Danile wants to make her his bride.

The tale that unfolds is captivating and complex. People are being poisoned, guards are being murdered and bodies are rising from the dead. As Katerina struggles to uncover who is causing these attacks, she finds herself caught up in the middle of things. When she is offered help by elders, she finds herself confused as light fights dark. With Prince Danile and George breathing down her neck, can she save the royal family before it’s too late?

There is romance or the hint of it in this novel, but delightfully it takes a backseat to all the suspense, plots, and supernatural events. This book completely captured me, and it was delightful to see young Katerina come into herself and protect those she loves; even at great sacrifice to herself. I found other characters to be delightful as well. I liked George, and Katerina’s friends and even the dreadful Princess Elena. ( )
  kimbacaffeinate | Mar 29, 2013 |
The Gathering Storm is the debut novel of Robin Bridges and the first in her Katerina Trilogy. Bridges' paranormal novel delivers, from the historical aspects of Russia to the supernatural. This was a delightful tale of vampires, fairies, werewolves, witches, necromancers and other supernatural creatures. A combination of Russian history and folklore make this an exciting, addictive read.

The protagonist Is Katerina Alexandrovna, she is the Duchess of Oldenburg, residing in Russia during the reign of Tsar Alexander III. Katerina is a necromancer, but she views this as a curse. She attempts to hide her gift and wants no part in using the ability. Once as a small child she used it, to save her mother’s cat, but she quickly realized the cat was wrong. Since she hasn’t even told her parents her secret, she understands very little about her ability and is fearful to share it with anyone.

Katerina is attending finishing school. A school which is more concerned with ballroom dancing then studies. Katerina longs to attend medical school at a time when woman are banned from being doctors. Her dearest friends are more concerned with catching the eye of the highest titled and richest young man. Katerina has been inspired by the first woman in the field and daydreams of going abroad to study. Alas, she has been born to an era where alliances and families’ incomes are dependent on securing good marriages for their daughters.

In a world filled with balls, gorgeous gowns, ballet, and musicals there is a dark underbelly filled with witches, vampires, werewolves and Fae all vying to secure their place. Katerina attracts the attentions of a powerful family, when she uses her gift to save a member of the royal family. As this family attempts to secure power, they use their skills to lure Katerina. Their young son uses his power and threats to woo her. At the same time she attracts the attentions of George (the Tsar’s middle son). He pledges to keep her safe, but she is constantly getting herself into trouble trying to solve things, and of course the young vampire Prince Danile wants to make her his bride.

The tale that unfolds is captivating and complex. People are being poisoned, guards are being murdered and bodies are rising from the dead. As Katerina struggles to uncover who is causing these attacks, she finds herself caught up in the middle of things. When she is offered help by elders, she finds herself confused as light fights dark. With Prince Danile and George breathing down her neck, can she save the royal family before it’s too late?

There is romance or the hint of it in this novel, but delightfully it takes a backseat to all the suspense, plots, and supernatural events. This book completely captured me, and it was delightful to see young Katerina come into herself and protect those she loves; even at great sacrifice to herself. I found other characters to be delightful as well. I liked George, and Katerina’s friends and even the dreadful Princess Elena. ( )
  kimbacaffeinate | Mar 29, 2013 |
Robin Bridges brings a whole new life to 1880's Russia with her novel about a young, aristocratic, female necromancer. This is a novel that was another slow-starter for me. I was mildly interested and intrigued by Bridges' magically fantastical and dangerous world set in St. Petersburg, but I wasn't well and truly hooked until late in the game - when I was about 300 pages into the novel and less than a hundred from the end. With a disquieting introduction featuring and honing in on the young Katerina Alexandra Maria von Holstein-Gottorp, Duchess of Oldenburg, The Gathering Storm sets its dark, magical tone right from the very first paragraph. With revenants, ghosts, vampires and creatures of the night stalking through the cold nights of Mother Russia, only Katerina has the dark curse able to control them, and try to figure out where all the zombiefied soldiers are coming from - and why they are being created.

Actually beginning eight years after the introduction with Katiya learning her dark powers of reanimating the dead, The Gathering Storm is set during the reign of Tsar Alexander III, known to his people as "The Bear." In this version of historical Russia, both the Light and Dark Courts of Faerie are at play within the Imperial Court of Alexander Romanov. The Imperial Tsar's own wife Dagmar of Denmark (though renamed as Marie Feodorovna) is actually a Light Faerie and controls that aspect of power in Russia. Alexander's own brother Vladimir married, shockingly, into the Dark Court fae: his wife, the Grand Duchess Miechen, has a obvious rivalry with the Empress. Not at all surprisingly, caught between these two women, these two factions, the Russian Court seethes with intrigue, betrayal and. . . magic. I loved the new integration of the faerie within the folds of the historical Russian aristocracy; I just wished it had been more detailed and fleshed out what the roles of the faerie were for, besides fomenting drama. Added to the tensions of the distant/enemy fae courts constantly around her and her family, Katerina has to contend with a witchy classmate at her boarding school named Elena, a princess of the country of Montenegro. And as the reader learns and Elena demonstrates, the fae aren't the only supernatural creatures populating 19th century Russia or its nobility. The author created numerous species/sub-species of vampire to contend with the human population as well. From the moth-like veshtizas, to the upyri, wampyr and even the supreme form of them all: the Vladiki - blood-drinkers descended from Vlad Dracul of Wallachia himself - Bridges has her own, fresh interpretation of vampirism. It's a very dense and complicated mythology that the author has created for her world, but it works.

Katerina, nicknamed Katiya by those who know her and love her, grew on me as the novel progressed. My increased affinity for the book can be directly traced to my increasing affection for the main character. My thought process concerning her went pretty much like this: "Eh" to "I don't hate her" to "I kinda like her" to "Ok, she's cool with me. I want her to live." Her necromantic ability isn't the only "otherworldly" capabilities the young Duchess possesses: she can also see a "cold light that seemed to grow stronger as a person drew nearer to the end" - convenient gift but not one I minded overmuch. What starts out as a sarcastic, genial sixteen year old girl develops into a headstrong, stubborn, intelligent and capable necromancer. Katiya has ambitition, like all the girls her age at the Smolny Institute. Unlike those girls, Katiya is not ambitious for power, for money or for even a Queenship. What she wants most in the world is to be a doctor (this is a girl, who when embroidering, pretending to be working on her sutures) - something not allowed for women in Russia. I found her dream to be interesting: a girl cursed with a gift for the dead desires to use her other powers (brains, strength, audacity) to help others live. Katerina isn't perfect: she can be a bit naive and silly but on the whole, it's her brains that define her - not her ballgowns or boyfriends. She's already a strange girl with her powers, but what truly sets her a part from the mold are her desires for a completely non-traditional life and profession.

And speaking of ballgowns and boyfriends, those were two of my main issues with the bulk of the story in The Gathering Storm. When the novels centers around the hidden magic of St. Petersburg and Katerina's increasingly erratic powers within the city, it is a smooth, engrossing read. When the novel veers off into the endless balls and pageantry of the nobles, the plot gets lost and I got bored - quickly. I kept waiting for the action to start whenever a pleated skirt or a mazurka was part of the narrative. I understand it can't be all madcap-chasing-after-a zombie, or fighting a vampire in a hospital but I needed more meat to the story when the endless balls and banquets were involved. The other main issue: the inevitable and predictable love triangle. Torn between the Tsar's younger son, Georgi Alexandrovich, and a Crown Prince from a family of "blood drinkers" I hresented the triangle from the moment of its introduction. Katerina flits between the two of them, unsure of who she really wants. The only redeeming factor of the love-triangle is the unique spin Bridges' places on it in regards to Danilo. That was the only saving-grace for a young-adult trope I am increasingly weary of reading. The young grand duke, however, ha my full support from his first reticent appearance. The only person in the novel who actually sees Katerina for what she is, he earned major points for his level-headed actions. He does need some individual attention and development from the author, but I like what she has set up so far for the Duke.

Sadly, only Katerina herself and the Grand Duke pass my test of characters for the novel. All the rest, from Katiya's cousin Dariya to the evil antagonist Elena, were fairly one-dimensional and lacking development. There's hardly any distinguishing characteristics to set Elena apart from her coterie of evil siblings. Dariya serves little point but to be Katiya's voice of caution and suspicion, only around for emotional pull. Elena, the driven witch with her eyes on the Tsarevich, can be faintly cartoonish in her villianous ways. The author did manage to surprise me with the hemlock revelation and what that meant for Elena/Militiza/etc., but on the whole she was a villain without bite. They simply did not as much tension nor atmosphere for me to really feel the antagonism or fear their reprisals. It's also easier to dismiss the other girls of the novel, because unlike Katiya who is so forward-thinking she's practically a walking anachronism, they are completely caught up in the ideals and values of a male-dominated society. For these same reasons, it's also easy to disregard the ideas and opinions of even Katerina's mother. This was a woman so focused on power and moving up her own daughter's entanglement with a family of blood drinkers doesn't bother her in the slightest; in fact, only Katiya's Papa was an adult/parent worth his salt in the whole book.

By the time I reached the final page, I wanted more and I wanted it ASAP. Not only because of the cliffhanger/open-ended finale: I just wanted more time with Katiya, Georgi and with vibrant, dangerous world of supernaturalized Russia. Though the plot gets snarled in vampire mythology and mired down in ballgowns and banquets, when it finds its way out - it gets GOOD. Fast. In a Russia where evil isn't what you are but what you do, I have hopes that in the next volume Katerina won't have to hide her remarkable abilities, but use them openly in defense of her Tsar. I can't wait for book two - or even to find out the title. The Gathering Storm may lose a few reader before it gets to the good part, so my advice to stick to it and see it through. You won't be sorry. ( )
  msjessie | Feb 4, 2013 |
The Gathering Storm is a book full of surprises. Part historical fiction, part romance and part paranormal, it's a head-spinning and eye-popping tale of light and dark, good and evil, loyalty and treason, love, hate and everything in between. Russian folklore, Gothic creatures, crazy plot developments, gorgeous settings and a whole cast of magnificent historical figures - this novel has it all! Prepare to be dazzled!

Set in St. Petersburg in 1888, when the Dark Court rivals the Light Court and the perpetual power struggle leads to many convoluted conspiracies and schemes to take over the throne of Russia, The Gathering Storm tells the story of Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, a girl burdened with a dark and dangerous secret. Katiya is a necromancer, she can raise people from the dead. She does not consider her power a talent, but a curse, and one that she is deeply ashamed of. Unlike her mother, she does not show particular fondness for seances, spiritualism and the occult. She dreams of becoming one of Russia's first female doctors, developing new cures, healing people. But a great and evil presence is growing in St. Petersburg. Behind a veil of glamour, the powerful faerie courts are plotting for control of the fate of the empire. An army of undead soldiers is being raised, rumors of dark magic are spreading, and the tsar's life is in a great danger. Katiya's powers attract the attention of both the Light and Dark Court, and she finds herself caught in the middle of a complicated love triangle that involves a brooding prince Danilo and handsome tsarevich, Goerge Alexandrovitch. The future of the entire Imperial Russia lays in her hands, will she make the right decision?

This was a really amazing book and I had so much fun reading it! Robin Bridges obviously did a lot of research for this series, and I was amazed at how historically accurate and detailed a world she created. At times, the astounding complexity of the plot (with its many intricate plot threads), as well as the head-spinning abundance of vibrant characters (both fictional and historical), comes dangerously close to crossing the line between genius and chaotic. And trust me, the line is very blurry. There's so much going on within the pages that it's practically impossible to keep up with all of it without drawing diagrams and family trees. Non of the characters can be dismissed as secondary and unimportant, everyone has a role to play, their fates intertwine with each other and if you lose your focus even just for a moment, you'll find yourself going back and re-reading certain passages, even whole chapters. I appreciated the note about Russian names and patronymics that was included at the beginning of the volume, it really helped me make sense of the many different names and diminutives that were scattered throughout the novel. I would, however, really like to see some sort of glossary included, as well. With so many creatures from Russian folklore (veshtiza witches, Grigori, Dekibristi, Vladiki, Bogatyr, etc..) making appearance on the pages of The Gathering Storm, I often had to consult my notes (yes I made notes, and a lot of them!) to make sure I'm getting everything right. All that can be a little bit overwhelming at times, but make no mistake - Bridges did not pick these myths and supernatural beings randomly. In the end, it all comes together in the utmost brilliant and jaw-dropping way. And, while it certainly is a read that demands 100% of your attention and a good memory for names (or at least a notebook and a pencil to write them all down), it is also a very well-thought-out and rewarding one.

While I loved the premise and the intricate plot line, Katiya was a hard personality for me to like. She's the kind of girl who likes to act alone, an independent spirit and a progressive thinker. While I can't say that these are bad things, more often than not these attributes of her character would get her in serious trouble. She insists on carrying the burden of her dark talent all by herself, internalizes all her struggles and pushes everyone else away. She doesn't want people to get hurt because of her and that's perfectly understandable, but at the same time, she is practically incapable of solving her own problems. She's full of conflicting feelings, confused as to what actions to take, at times even distracted and silly. For example, during one of the most dramatic scenes in the book, when Katerina is about to take part in the dark ritual (prince Danilo's ascension), instead of panicking (or even showing any visible signs of discomfort), trying to save herself or at least breaking down in tears, she swoons over her new pretty dress. And the dinner preceding the bloody ritual she's about to play major part in? She didn't think it was stressful or dramatic. Quite the opposite, it "was, overall, pleasant dinner" in her opinion. I must admit, I laughed out loud at least a few times. She wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed for sure and it was really hard for me to root for such a weak and dazed-out heroine. I wanted her to be more focused, to research her dark talent and perhaps learn how to control it, to speak up for herself, fight back, and not let everyone push her around. That never happened, though, and I felt that for a central character Katerina was just a little bit too silly and unmotivated.

To sum it all up: if The Gathering Storm sounds over the top, convoluted and confusing, it's because - for the most part - it is over the top, convoluted and confusing. It's also glamorous, thoroughly captivating and really fun to read. At times it's overly dramatic (in a way that is both annoying and charming at the same time), at times it hits serious notes about death, longing, life-changing choices and following your dreams. In the end, though, it's just a furiously entertaining, visually appealing, sparkly and deliciously fresh piece of literature. If, like me, you're fascinated with Eastern-European culture, history and mythology and you don't mind having to consult Wikipedia every other page, then this story is sure to bring you joy and satisfaction. Bridges' blend of history, fiction, paranormal and folklore is undeniably spellbinding, and the complex world she created is just as beautiful as it is dark, sinister and dangerous. While not without its flaws, The Gathering Storm is sure to make a huge impression on its readers, young adult and adult alike. ( )
  Evie-Bookish | Nov 6, 2012 |
I enjoyed reading this book set in Russia during a time when modern medicine is overtaking the old superstitions and traditional thinking.Our heroine is Katerina, a minor member of royalty. There are two courts one light and the other dark. The book doesn't say so until near the end that her family are considered to belong to the dark court.Katerina remarks earlier in the book that her mom manages in-between the two courts because of her interest in the occult.Katerina even discovers during one of her mom's seances that she has the curse of necromancy.She accidentally brings a toad back to life. She thinks of her gift as a curse and shamelessly hides until for most of her youth. She longs to become a doctor but it is illegal for girls to learn medicine in Russia.It isn't until she brings a moth back to life because she is attempting to save the Tzars son from a love spell from her classmate that her secret is discovered. His brother spends most of the book berating her, accusing her, insulting her,etc. all the while ignoring the glaringly obvious evil people in the court. I was disappointed I made the right call in pointing him out as a love interest.If a heroine spends any time in the book noticing a guy's breeches or other clothing items [she noted his swishing cloaks]... he is almost always the love interest.I can't blame her for not letting anyone into her confidences since she feels such shame of her gift. She thinks everyone will hate her. The way George berates her it isn't any wonder.The only wonder is why it's not okay not to accept her wanting to be a doctor but calling her evil is okay?Many of the royalty want to use her power. I have a hard time swallowing all the dark court are bad and the light court are good since her own parents are depicted to be quite nice people. Maybe this will be touched on in the sequel. The German princess Alix is up to something. She was described as smiling shyly a lot. She never smiled any other way.Smiling to hide Vampire teeth, perhaps?The book was best when it dealt with her classmate Elena and her creepy family. She poisons her classmates and others in the town and sends moths to suck their blood at night.Elena's family the Montenegrins force Katerina into becoming engaged with the oldest son, Danilo. At times I tried to forget he was only seventeen when he seduced her but sometimes I couldn't.I remember I am older than the target audience but it was difficult to see him as a threat. His sisters are much scarier. He's like Leo Dicaprio in Man in the Iron Mask or Princess Joffrey on Game of Thrones. Laughable and spoiled. Then I think of the poor citizens of their kingdom and wish this book touched on how they felt about their Vampire Royal Family.The revolution is far away for those poor people and then it won't get any better. Here's to hoping we see outside of the privileged life of the ballrooms and courts in the next book. ( )
  peptastic | Jun 1, 2012 |
This book, set in a re-envisioned Imperial Russia, was an enjoyable read. However, I found myself varying on whether I found the idea of Romanov Russia teeming with vampires, werewolves, witches, and all manner of mystical rituals and creatures as interesting or slightly ridiculous. Nevertheless, the setting and rethinking of historical figures was creative and made for a fun read. Definitely for fans of young adult paranormal fiction. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | May 27, 2012 |
originally appeared on:Bookshelf Confessions

From the very first page I was hooked with the story. But first I’d liked to talk about the cover. The cover is nice, it’s just that the girl on it doesn’t look like a YA heroine at all (I presumed this is Katerina). I honestly liked the 2nd book’s cover than this one.

On to the book. At first I thought this is a historical book, but after reading, I think this is more of a paranormal novel set in a historical setting. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the Russian Empire with the fusion of superstitious beliefs; faeries in the royal court, witches casting spells, vampires, rituals and more.

Ms. Bridges really researched this book well, some of the characters are real historical people. I also loved her description about Russian balls, clothes, jewelries, culture, folklore and traditions. I was easily transported in a world where history meets fantasy. It was a mixture I hadn’t had a hard time loving and submerging myself into.

I liked the plot, though not entirely unique, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the first book I read with teens on a historical setting, plus the paranormal theme . Also, there are a lot of things going on the book, there’s no boring moment > which explains why I didn’t put the book down until the very last page..:D

I really liked Katerina too and I presumed her dreams of becoming a doctor someday was based on the current job and passion of Ms. Bridges, a pediatric nurse. In a time, when girls are expected to only marry and produce heirs, listening to Katiya’s voice which longs to pursue her dreams is fascinating. I sometimes got annoyed with her decisions especially when she thinks she could handle it all by herself, stubborn and brave, a deadly combination.:)… Though the reason was to protect her family, country and the boy she loves, she just got on my nerve sometimes. But it just made her a real character.

I also loved all the characters. Each of them served his purpose well. It’s just that some of them are not that developed to their fullest. It’s not messy, it’s more like there are a lot of information to digest. Count Chermensky’s death would have been tragic, I just wished that through Katiya’s narrative, she’d made us see too, how the Count protected her up to the last minute.

The author had been busy presenting us the plot too, there’s little on the love story development. And by the way, it might look like a love triangle’s brewing based on the description above, but there isn’t anything like that (I think)- I and Katerina hate one of them. I didn’t quite feel the romantic side of this book, not until the later part. I would have liked *spoiler (well, not really since you don’t know who)* the proposal part, but it was quite bland, like someone says Marry Me without dating first. It was a little bit rushed in that part. I like the animosity between them at first, it would have develop into a great love story. Well, maybe there’s more to see in the romantic side of this book at the sequel since there’s a promise of the development of the chemistry/love between the protagonists.

Even though I don’t feel quite antagonistic about Russian names. The author drops a lot of long Russian names here, I had a hard time figuring who’s who, though that didn’t deter me from enjoying the book. Good thing too, the author gives us an explanation about the Russian names at the very first page.

I do like to learn more of these superstitious beliefs, it seems there’s a lot of these in this book. The author missed to really explain what are veshtizas, House of Bessaraba, The Dekebristi, Vladiki- I think it would be better, to have a Character Guide, or a prequel about Russia’s supposed to be past situation.

All in all, this had been an enjoying and wonderful read. For the few hours that I’ve read the book, I was in Katerina’s world. Can’t wait to read more of Katerina’s adventure and especially how her love story flows. I will be looking for the next book, “The Unfailing Light”.

Would highly recommend this to anyone especially to fans of YA historical and paranormal. ( )
  avry15 | Apr 5, 2012 |
What an interesting concept I thought to myself, take the Russian Empire and mix into it a necromancer and then I read some of the reviews and realized that there are going to be Fae, Vampires and other great 'paranormal' creepie crawlies. Well I should have read MORE of the reviews, because I would have never have spent what I did for this book. I might have gotten it from the library and then not felt so horrible when I wanted to throw it at the wall after I read 30-50% of it. After 75% I wanted to get my head examined, but I made it this far...I had to keep going.

This was a tedious read made worse by the whiny, wimpy main character Katerina. I understand that this is a historical so I should not expect the types of heroines that one would read in a modern based novel. Yet, I kept wishing that this girl who would defy the times by wanting to become a doctor, defying the conventions to study for it even though she would need to leave the country to study, could not find it within herself to try and learn more about her necromancers gift. Then when
Vampires and Zombies etc. started coming out of the woodwork, I would have hoped that she would have done more than just stammer a few pointless questions to various people of questionable trustworthiness and then play right into the bad guys hands.

There are about a million (sorry I couldn't help myself from exaggerating here) characters, many of whom are redundant or unnecessary to the story. It is as if the author had a certain quota of names she needed to use up on a dare or a bet and use them indeed she did. Then again with Zombies and other blood and flesh eating creatures abounding, I guess you would need a cast of hundreds. Also, I think that there may be only about 5 or 6 real humans left in Russia at this time (or so it seemed), so our intrepid heroine must slog through various factions of 'others' to try and find some she can trust. Does she stumble upon humans to trust? Nah, this young girls trust radar is all messed up. Well after all even though she is smart enough to speak with doctors on their own terms she is only 16. Something it may serve you well to remember if you choose to read this book.

For the life of me I can't even see young adult or teens and 'tweens liking the fact that this was an extremely boring book.. .no matter that it is filled with Zombies and whatnot. There are so many other worthy tomes out there, go with one of those.
Granted, this is the set up novel for the last two books, but did the author really have to stuff so much into one book without any cohesion to it? ( )
  Cats57 | Apr 1, 2012 |
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: The politics of Romanov Russia are brought to a new level–the Dark and Light Faerie courts, intertwined with the Imperial family, are threatened by vampires. The dangerous and multi-layered court life is brought to life in this historical paranormal.

Opening Sentence: Our family tree has roots and branches reaching all across Europe, from France to Russia, from Denmark to Greece, and in several transient and minute kingdoms and principalities in between.

The Review:

Katerina first introduces us to the Imperial Court at a St. Petersburg ball and the world only evolves to become more politically intricate from there. It seems like everyone is a prince or a duke and can claim a long line of royal titles. Thankfully, there’s an author’s note in the beginning that explained the Russian naming system, because I would have been so confused without it. As it is, almost everyone in the royal family is a cousin. Given the complexity of the world and the multiple titles, both paranormal and royal, that she was working with, Bridges did a great job keeping everything straight.

The Light Court has the empress as it’s faerie queen, while the Dark Court’s queen is duchess Miechen. Miechen’s husband Vladimir is next in line to be tsar, making the duchess and empress mortal enemies. But people over the city are being killed by poison and there seems to be no pattern or reason to the deaths. When vampires begin to infest St. Petersburg again and the undead are rising against the tsar’s secret Order of Knights, the courts will have to put aside their differences and find a way to deter an even more dangerous foe.

In comes Katerina. She hides her power of necromancy from the world, but in a faerie court there’s no way to hide her dark aura. After reanimating her mother’s beloved cat at the age of ten Katerina has never used her powers again. They scare her and they’re dangerous–not the raising of a zombie that wants to eat flesh, but the fact that it’s dark magic. After all, they still burn witches in Russia. She wants to save people by being a doctor, not by forcing corpses back to a half life. This necromancy, evil as it is, might be the only thing she can use to save the tsar from his enemies. The royal family begins to reveal secrets Katerina couldn’t have guessed at. Whatever chaos is descending on St. Petersburg, she’s caught up in the middle of it.

The evil that’s sweeping the city is forcing Katerina to make impossible choices. There’s Danilo, the charming crown prince of Montenegro–everything her mother’s always wanted in a suitor. But his sisters have a reputation for being sorceresses, and though Elena is Katerina’s schoolmate, they’re far from friends. She caught Elena trying to place a spell on the tsarevitch (crown prince) and destroyed it before it could have any effect. Elena and her sister’s have a plan for the imperial family and their father is the tsar’s closest ally. Katerina has to find out whom to trust, what’s the truth, and who’s playing her before someone dies from their mischief.

But this caught the attention of George Alexandrovich, the tsarevitch’s younger and more astute brother. George believes Katerina to be evil and she doesn’t dare point the finger at Elena, who might soon be the tsarevitch’s betrothed.

Bridges has woven the world of supernatural and historical Russia together tightly. The fusion of facts and fantasy is cohesive enough that it was easy to suspend reality and fall into this treacherous world. There are so many pieces to the plot to be puzzled together at the end that I wound up being perfectly satisfied with the ending. (Not that I don’t want more. I do, preferably right now.) Bridges did a great job of juggling a large cast of characters that could easily have become overwhelming, but instead became memorable.

Notable Scene:

The princess’s face was inscrutable as I passed her. “Always remember, Katerina Alexandrovna. No one has allies in this city. There is no one to trust but yourself.”

I found Miechen sitting in her chair, looking a little paler than usual. “Are you alright, Your Imperial Highness? Can I do anything for you?”

She shook her head. “I’m fine. I thought you had left.”

“My aunt left her gloves.” I spotted them on the chair where Zina had been sitting. I hoped the grand duchess did not want to continue with the seance now that Cantacuzene was gone. “Are you quite sure you are well?”

The grand duchess’s smile was frosty. “You are very kind, Katerina Alexandrovna. But the princess was right. There are no allies in this city. It’s every creature for his- or herself. And you will stay alive much longer if you remember that.”

The Katerina Trilogy:

1. The Gathering Storm

2. The Unfailing Light

FTC Advisory: Random House/Delacorte provided me with a copy of The Gathering Storm. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Mar 17, 2012 |
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?

(goodreads.com)

I've never really read any Russian Historical Fiction. This novel was great. It held my interest till the very end! The plot was original and engaging. I love fantasy novels and historical fiction so to combine both....amazing!It reminded my a little of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies. Mostly because of the overbearing mother, the balls, the strong central female character, and the bit of fantasy threw into it. That's okay though because I love both novels!

Katerina is a character you will like immediately, like I stated before, she is a very strong character. I admire what she is willing to do for her family and loved ones. And the whole time she thought being a necromancer was a curse. I thought it was pretty cool gift if you ask me.

The were 2 different villains in the novel: the vampire and the evil Egyptian necromancer who suddenly comes back to life. I felt like there were a lot of different stories going on. That was one problem I had along with all the different characters. There were so many names! I got confused at all the different people intertwining in the story. One other problem was the ending. I thought that all the action was suddenly dropped on you all at once. In other words, everything happened in a flash. The ending was good, but I think it could've been better.

So I did like the novel. It was creative and original. I can't wait to read the sequel! It hope it's as entertaining and enticing as the first one. Great job Mrs. Bridges! 4/5 stars ( )
  rach2340 | Feb 24, 2012 |
Sixteen-year-old Katerina Alexandrovna, who lives in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1888, wants nothing more than to become a doctor - which is completely unsuitable for a young woman in her position. Katerina is a duchess, related to the royal family of Russia, and so she must marry well, and can never have a career. Katerina also has a dark secret - she is a necromancer, and can raise the dead. She hates her secret power, and considers it a curse.

Katerina is forced to attend countless balls and social events by her mother, who wants her to marry well. Katerina's evil classmate at her finishing school, Princess Elena, wants Katerina to marry her older brother, Crown Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro. Elena is a witch, and Katerina suspects that she tried to kill several girls at their school. Against her will, because of her unwanted powers, Katerina is drawn into a war involving dark supernatural forces that threaten Russia.

The Gathering Storm is a book that I have mixed feelings about. There are several things that I absolutely loved about this book, and others that I wasn't that impressed with. First off, I absolutely *loved* the setting of Tsarist Russia in the late nineteenth century. The setting was very original for a young adult novel and was described really well by the author. It's obvious she did her research. I also loved the premise of the story, it's very different from any other young adult paranormal book out there. Now, on to the things I didn't like as much. This book seemed over the top with the many different kinds of supernatural creatures featured in the story. There's necromancers, fairies, vampires, witches and wizards, zombies, and werewolves. I think that's all of them! It's all a bit much for one book. Second, Katerina's character frustrated me at times. I loved that she wanted to be a doctor despite the fact that it wasn't proper for a girl of her position. However, sometimes she acted rather stupid. I wish she had asked for help rather than giving in to the bad guys because they threatened her family and friends, and she assumed that even with help she could not protect them. With all that said, I would still recommend this book to readers who are looking for something different in the young adult paranormal genre, and I still plan to read the rest of the books in the trilogy when they are published, as I want to see where the story goes. ( )
  rebecca191 | Feb 17, 2012 |
Are you a Tolstoy fan? I loved War and Peace and Anna Karenina so Russian names don't intimidate me, nor does anything Russian. I cut my wisdom teeth in high school reading about Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. I love St. Petersburg and needlepointed a pillow or two to commemorate it. I've cried over the butchering of the Romanov Family and wondered about the girl called Anna who said she was the youngest surviving daughter of the bloodthirsty Russian rebellion.

But, if you aren't an aforementioned fan or a Russian history buff, or if you don't care for the complexities of their names and places and royalty...this book may be a tad taxing on you. You may have to flub the names a bit.

As for me; I found it an absolute treasure! Someone couldn't have handed me a Godiva chocolate-encrusted, faux Fabrege' egg with pastel icings on it to make me happier! I just ate this book up...and will someone please bring me Volume II of this series asap?

Robin Bridges may be a nurse, but she is also a fabulous writer with an imagination and uncanny ability to place paranormal characters into real Russian royalty as if they were born to it. Amazing literary talents. Her characters just gleamed off the page with magical qualities and intrigue. They are beautiful and dark, brittle as glass and soft as fur, frightening and furious. Just a melting pot of interesting and provocative people that I was so excited to meet and can't wait to continue to know more.

The settings Robin creates are dazzling and realistic. I felt the stifling heat of a ballroom lighted by candles and fireplaces...too cramped and crushed by too many bodies dancing furiously to gypsy-played music...too much danger and excitement for a young girl approached by a would-be blood drinker. Her street scenes, scenes of palaces and hospitals, opera houses and theatres are vivid and lush. Even her descriptions of the Princesses in their girl's school with their strict teachers fits her storytelling realism because the Smolny School actually existed in the 1800s.

I felt breathless when the fierce rival of the empress, the powerful and beautiful Maria Pavlovna, wife of the Grand Duke, was described in her deep purple ballgown and diamond tiara, dark violet eyes blazing, frightening and powerful as the queen faerie of The Dark Court. See this picture from Robin's website of what she may have looked like:

What particularly saved the day for me in this young adult novel, fit for adults, is the emphasis on Katiya's desire to be a doctor in a time when royal girls were trained and primed to be royal wives. This theme of an independent thinking young woman who has intellectual goals for her life is refreshing and unusual in paranormal/fantasy writing for YAs. I give Ms Bridges hundreds of "high 5s" for that alone in her fantastic book.

In summary, "The Katrina Trilogy..." is a wonderful read. It is a book I raced through, losing track of time when I only wanted to read a couple of chapters and go to bed! I was fascinated with the book because it tripped the fine line of reality and mixed it with the fanciful in such a remarkable way. It does that dance and has you enchanted before you know what's happened, and you can't put the book down. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, pure entertainment in the best sense of the word. Believe me when I say, you must read this one!

5 shimmering stars

PS: Special treats: Finding out what the Romanov Empress and Queen Victoria's favorite romance novel was. Finding out the Empress's favorite processional was from "The Snow Maiden" by Rimsky-Korsakov. Finding out what certain of the tarot cards mean. Etc...

Deborah/TheBookishDame ( )
1 vote BookishDame | Feb 6, 2012 |
When I think of Russia, I think of White Russians and the reason why fire engines are red, but most importantly I recall quite fondly the movie ANASTASIA. So when I heard about The Gathering Storm and saw its gorgeous cover, color me red when I say that I was more than excited for its debut! The story starts off interesting enough and Katerina’s mysterious necromancing powers seem to bring more problems to the table that turn the pages faster, but I had a hard time with falling in love with the characters. The love triangle between Katerina, Danilo, and George needed a little more electricity for me to get on board, and I got a little lost among the many players within the web of political intrigue. Robin Bridges wove together a stunning world of Russian delights with a dash of supernatural that I think will appeal to readers who like a bit of history in their stories, but I need a little bit more convincing with Book 2. ( )
  theepicrat | Feb 4, 2012 |
I haven't read much of Russian history, so when I read the blurb about this book I wondered whether I'd be able to get into the setting of the novel, but it sounded interested so I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Robin Bridges does a good job merging fantasy with history, allowing the reader to slip into the story without feeling like they are in history class.

Katerina Alexandrovna Maria von Holstein-Gottorp is the Duchess of Oldenburg and our narrator. She attends a prestigious finishing school - her classmates are princesses and other ladies of royal lineage - gets invited to fancy balls hosted by the Empress and hides a very dark secret from everyone, she has the ability to raise the dead.

Katiya (as her family and friends refer to her) is a spirited narrator. She's a strong, level-headed young woman, and cares deeply for her loved ones. She wants to be a doctor, but she cannot study medicine in her hometown, so she reads medical books and journals to keep up with the medical field.

As a narrator, Katiya is easy to read and very lovable. She's not afraid to speak her mind even to someone above her station. It makes for a humorous read at times.

One thing that I found jarring in the story was all the names that were thrown around. It took the greater part of the book for me to get the secondary characters sorted. It would have been helpful if most of them were non-existent or if there was a way to reference them outside of the narrative to understand who is who. I almost started writing the names down with descriptions so I could remember, they were so difficult to keep track of at times.

Another is the way the first names were generally paired with the patronymics, after reading names like Katerina Alexandrovna a few times my brain started dropping the patronymic.

I also found that there was a lot of information in this book - enough to get the plot moving - however, a lot of times I felt as though the story was rushed where I wanted a slower pace while some places it seemed to drag, and I wished it were faster paced. This book is pushing 400 pages and had a lot of world and character building which affected the pace but many times the parts that interested me the most seemed rushed.

Though she is a strong female lead, there were times when Katiya behaved a little out of character - but, I forgive her, especially given the stressful situations in which she found herself.

These things aside, this book has a lot of potential and I found it rather enjoyable. The last quarter of the book was fantastic. It hit the perfect momentum and I couldn't put it down. Robin is great at describing settings - be it gowns and dancing or conflict - so it was almost as though you were in the middle of the action, off to the sidelines, observing.

I'm definitely interested in where Katerina's story will lead her. If the next books are anything like the last quarter of this book, they will be fantastic. ( )
1 vote iShanella | Feb 1, 2012 |
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.

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?

Review: Robin Bridges created a wonderful story with fully fleshed-out characters with a setting that was so inviting to the reader. How often can you say that about a paranormal or fantasy novel? While I really enjoy paranormal and fantasy genres, I cannot say that I have ever been this head-over-heels drawn to a story-line.

I found the historical aspects of the novel very intriguing. I am a huge lover of historical fiction, and although this is not a true historical fiction, it has many of the same aspects. Learning about this time period of Russia could not have been more entertaining. While keeping to the setting of 1888 St. Petersburg, Russia, the author cleverly wove in the paranormal features and romantic touches that made the story what it is.

I recently ran across a quote from Jo Ann Ferguson that I thought really portrayed the feel of this novel. She was asked for her definition of paranormal: "A story that has an element of the impossible which makes everything in the story possible." Does that not say so much?

I must admit that this is my favorite of all the books I have read so far in 2012 (I think that I stated that in another post about this book). I was wrapped up in the characters & setting from page one. I still feel tied to the book, running scenes through my mind every so often. I honestly did not want the book to end. The good news is that it is only the first in the trilogy (The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. 1) - I have more to look forward to. ( )
  sarakovach | Jan 23, 2012 |
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