Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Read (February 3, 2012)
Book: The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy 1) by Robin Bridges
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books 
Number of Pages: 386 
Genre/s: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley

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? - (source)

“We lived in the strangest of times. Russia was steeped in mysticism and the occult, and science was struggling against superstition to pull the country in the future. It was like dreaming you were in a fairy tale, and knowing you should wake up but not being able to. Unfortunately, I knew for a fact that monsters and faeries existed. I might even be one of the monsters. And there was nothing science could do about it.” - taken from an uncorrected ARC 
What immediately drawn me to The Gathering Storm was the setting. Set in Russia where Tsars, Duchesses and Dukes were held with much importance than anything else. Power struggles were common and marrying a man or woman with high position was any parents' dream. I've always been fascinated with Russia ever since I've heard the story about Anastasia and the Romanov's family. It was intriguing, indeed but what really interested me was the unsettling fact that nobody survived in that family. 

But The Gathering Storm was not about the Romanov's at all. It tells the story of Katerina Alexandrovna. A girl with a huge dream to be a doctor someday. But she was held back by what society dictates: A fine young lady marries someone of importance. End of story. But there are far more things, sinister things she has to hide if she wants to live a normal life and avoid condemnation.

Katerina stood out to me. She was a sensible, smart girl and didn't think too highly of herself. She's hiding a terrible secreta power she views as a curse not a giftthat she has kept hidden for years. She's afraid it would consume her and bring her to the dark side. But one evening, while attending a ball she used her powers to save someone from an evil spell. Unfortunately, somebody saw her and she was blackmailed. It's either she will use her power for them or they will reveal her secret. Quite the dilemma, isn't it?

Katerina reminded of Fire from Kristin Cashore's Fire. She saw herself as a monster not knowing that what she hated the most about herself will save not only her family but the entire Russia. She's passionate about being a doctor even though in her time, it's frowned upon when a woman with title would "work" instead of being happily married. A little bit cynical about love so it was really cute to watch her fell in love with someone she despises the most. On the other hand, Grand Duke George Alexandrovich reminds me of Brigan from the same book by Cashore. Brigan hated Fire. Judged her harshly, treated her with contempt, but he will always be there to save her in the nick of time. With their constant meeting and unexpected brushes with out-of-the-ordinary creatures, he learned more about her and grew to love her.

What my problem with The Gathering Storm was the names and the titles. It took getting used to. But although that's the case, I'm happy that I know now the difference between the usage of -nova and -vich. Also, the ranks and familial relationships baffled me to no end. Everyone was someone's cousin, granddaughter or great great grandson.

The creatures, the superstitions and the lore, were enough to drive me crazy. Everything just keep popping out of place and it made everything so complicated. I almost poked my eye with a pen (yes, I'm reading at class again) when I discovered what's lurking beyond the forests that first time. I never thought I'll see that kind of creature again in another book. Think of Die For Me. ;)

And the sudden realization of Katerina that she loved Briganer George was enough reason for me to eat my socks. I think the naiveness can be pointed out with the fact that she was cynical about this. But I'm telling you that came out of nowhere. Although, I applaud this book because there's no insta-love, that out of nowhere realization just bothered me a bit. Who knew you'd fell in love with someone that fast and you'd realized it because you're not going to be able to dance with him at a ball because you're already engaged? Ha!

However, my only real thorn about this was the ending. Why does it have to end that way? Is there any awesome explanation why the ending must be in a completely different level from the rest of the book?

Nevertheless, The Gathering Storm was refreshing and different. The descriptions and the details were very well done, I've felt like I've been to Russia myself, attended the balls and curtsied 'til my knees and ankles hurt. I enjoyed it and I am expecting to know more about Katerina and her painstakingly decision (rolls eyes) to make in the next installment. Filled with glamour, myth, mystery and adventures, fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling and Fire from The Seven Kingdom series will surely like this book.

Cupid's Verdict:
4 Cupids
A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost via Netgalley
in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I have tagged you! Here's the link:

  2. wow great review! So I've tagged you too, hmm...

    Here's my post!


  3. Stopping by for the book blogger love-a-thon! =)

    The Gathering Storm is already on my TBR list. It's great to hear that you gave it 4 stars. I'm looking forward to reading it! Also, the cover makes me want to bundle up with some hot cocoa LOL

    1. Oh yes, the weather here is unbelievably realistic. Thanks for visiting, Rachel!

  4. This book sounds a whole lot more interesting than I would have thought! I was in love with the Anastasia movie when I was little but that 1)was made by Disney so it hardly counts and 2)it was so long ago I wouldn't be able to remember anyways! I will definitely have to give this book a try!

    1. My love for Anastasia and Russia definitely made me pick up this book. I hope you'll like this one Katelyn. Thanks for stopping by! :D

  5. I started seeing reviews for this book right around the time my best friend left to live in Russia for 2+ years, and ever since it's seemed like a cosmic connection that I have to read it haha. I'm glad it was ultimately good for you, though I'm a bit nervous since you and a few other bloggers have noted a few "thorns."

    Hopping through for the Love-A-Thon!
    Ashley @ Ashley Loves Books

    1. I do hope you pick this up Ashley. It's not most perfect book out there but this book is really entertaining. Thanks for dropping by! :D

  6. Stopping by for the book blogger love-a-thon! Very cute blog. I am a new follower. I love your review. I so want to read this book. It sounds amazing.

    - Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment

    1. Thank you, Beckie! I hope you like this as much as much as I did. :)

  7. I've actually seen a few reviews of this book that had issues with the names and titles of the characters. This time period intrigues me but I'm not sure this book is the best book to explore this period. Thanks for the honest review.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Alexis. Yes, I think this is more of a lighter read on that time period. Seeing as this is more of a paranormal read and the historical aspect is just on the background. I do hope you'll give this a try, though. It might surprise you. :D

  8. 4 stars... Sounds really good! :D Might try it. Thanks you!

  9. I've haven't read many books or stories that are set in Russia, but I have always been fascinated by Russia and the society. The Gathering Dark has been on my radar for a while now. It had fallen to the back for a while, but thank you for bringing it back to the front. The mystery surrounding The Gathering Storm, and not to mention that beautiful cover, scream "Read Me"! Thanks for another great review!

  10. I cannot wait to finally be able to read this book. I haven't had a chance to yet, but your review was the motivation I needed to hurry it up already. Especially now that the second book is out! Thanks for the review!


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