Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Monday, January 30, 2012
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: The Katerina Trilogy #1
Source: Random Buzzers
Challenge: DAC #1

The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy, #1)

Duchess Katerina Alexandrovna Oldenburg is a necromancer, a secret she has kept all her life. However, her secret is discovered by a dangerous classmate, and she finds herself a pawn in a perilous scheme. Meanwhile, she's being courted by the charming Prince Danilo and trying to find a way to be a female doctor in a world that looks down on women. With no one to turn to, Katerina has to figure out a solution to her problems on her own. Or perhaps George Alexandrovich, the tsar's son, can help, if they can get past their differences...

When I heard the phrases "historical fantasy" and "necromancer", I knew I had to read this. It had so much potential, and the fact that it was set in Russia intrigued me even more. The setting definitely succeeds in being magical and, in fact, was my favorite part of the book. Bridges depicts it and all the glamorous balls beautifully.

But then it all goes downhill.

I could talk about some of the nit-pickier things, like how I don't think anyone really says "Mon dieu!" that much, or how it seems Katerina only knows three French phrases (mon dieu, merci, and another "m" word that isn't appropriate), but most books have their quirks. That's completely understandable, and I do have the ARC version. The most prominent problem is Katerina herself. As a narrator, she is just so irritating, and there aren't even any amazing supporting characters to make up for it. Despite having been a necromancer for sixteen years, she has done absolutely nothing; she hasn't even tried to learn why she was born one. Plus, she actually faints (who does that outside of romance novels?) and has a habit of being a little whiny. It's just so ironic since she wants to defy society by becoming a doctor and a strong, independent woman. I don't understand, therefore, why other characters seem to do most of the work for her. (At one point, she actually wishes for one of the characters to be her knight in shining armor and rescue her, and while this line may not be in the finished copy, it shows a lot about her character.)

As for the plot, it is developed poorly and some points contradict others. Most of all it's confusing, because it seems as though everybody has magical powers. And yet Katerina is still so shocked about having them herself. Everyone appears to know about magic, as well, yet no one talks about it. Is magic a secret? Is it not? I wasn't so sure, and The Gathering Storm didn't give me any answers.

And then, vampires and werewolves are introduced. If you read this blog, you know I don't really read vampire books because they've become fairly trite. (There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but I just haven't found one yet.) It felt like other monsters, ones that are less generic, could have filled their spaces. My whole reason for picking up a book about a necromancer was the originality, and I just felt very let down, so despite having high hopes for The Gathering Storm, I won't be continuing on with the series.

*2 out of 5 stars*

Other Historical Fantasy Books You May Like: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
What did you think of TGS? Did you have a different opinion than I did?


  1. Hmm, I was a bit iffy on this book. I'm not one for magical elements alongside my historical fiction. However, the premise sounds interesting. I'll have to give it a try myself...eventually.

  2. I was a little on the fence about The Gathering Storm too but I may give it a shot eventually. Thanks for your honest review!


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