by Robin Bridges
Published January 10th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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?
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: Jan 10th, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Source: My own copy
Let me start this review by stating that I fail to understand why so many people gave The Gathering Storm such low ratings. I really was able to simply lose myself in this book. I read it in one day, secretly turning pages during college classes and everything. Russia has always been very interesting to me, and this was the first book with a Russian main character I've seen. I liked that the author gave a brief explanation about Russian names and prefixes before the beginning of the book.
It was nice knowing more about the historical setting, about the situation of Russian in the 1880's, especially concerning the women's views and their expected roles. I love to see women trying to be more than what they're expected to be. :)
Katerina, our MC, was a very strong character. She managed to stand her ground and follow her dreams and express her opinions even when most people (her mother included) were trying to crush them, to change her, to fit her into the pretty little mold all the other silly little girls were expected to be molded into. She wanted to be a doctor, one of the very first female doctors, one of the very first females to go to college! And, boy, was I impressed with her courage!
But now that I've stopped to think about it, I suppose most probably didn't enjoy the story as much because of the fantastical flavor of it. Kat is a necromancer. The main love interest is part-faerie. The villains are witches. There are zombies roaming around. Those things didn't bother me at all. As a matter of fact, they fit very well into the story. However, I can see how some of these characteristics could bother some readers.
The Russian society cracked me up some times. It looked like almost everybody was either a prince/princess or a duchess/duke. Or, at least, somehow related to one of those. There was an overload of 'Your Highnessess' and 'Your Majesties' and the alike. That struck me as particularly funny at certain moments, especially during battles in which people were fighting for their lives, trying not to get blood on their pretty frocks while still managing to NOT drop the royal treatment. LOL.
Or, I suppose, most didn't like the fact that romance was not the main focus for the plot. There were romantic tidbits, but there was SO much more going on that those were delegated to a second plane. But, come on, it was a slow-developing romance (they were mad at each other/did not trust each other for the greater part of the book) and forbidden, on top of that! (a mere duchess who could care less about marriage and wants nothing more than becoming a doctor and a PRINCE who wanted to kill her and now wants to give her the world?).
Also, there were some things that managed to creep me out, like those weirdoes/mean witches and their rituals... that was fun. ;P
I cannot wait to read the next stallment. I'm sure it'll be great. *-* And there'll be more romance, too, I'm certain.