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Monday, October 8, 2012

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publication.Date  January 10th 2012
Pages:400
Published By:  Delacorte Books For Young Readers
WebsiteRobin Bridges | 

The Gathering Storm- Goodreads
My review copy:Bought by me
Where to get:


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)



“Give me one year.Give me a year to prove to you that we belong together. That your darkness won't blot out my light. Promise me” 
“Balls, balls, balls! I am sick to death of balls!"
“All romances ended exactly the same way: a girl realized the surly boy she had hated all along was the only person in the universe who could complete her soul. I did not believe for a minute that my soul could be completed by some surly boy. And I would not wish my curse to harm anyone else. So how could I dare long for love?”
“You know what must be done."
"No, I do not know what must be done. I do not routinely summon people from the grave and have them following me around!
“I wore a white velvet gown, similar to my Smolny dress. I looked forward to the day when I could wear any color in public other than white. White was innocent. My soul was not.” 

      
      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.



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28 comments:

Danny said...

Interesting!! I totally thought this would go into a different direction when I first saw this book!

but I had to laugh hard at " 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"

You are awesome Evie! *giggles*

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

I remember when this one was about to come out - it was one of the first books I truly coveted when I started blogging. It's still on my TBR but I had a feeling it was one of those books that you just know, you're going to need to set aside some serious reading time for. It does sound like a wild ride, but one that you enjoyed. Prickly characters aside, I definitely think I'll read it at some point. I'm glad you reviewed it, Evie - that puts it back on my radar!


Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

Jaime Lester said...

I have been looking forward to this book for a while now. It seems very different from a lot of the stuff I have read lately. And I LOVE that cover in a huge way! I hate that it can be confusing at times, but it seems like there is a whole lot of good to make up for the little bit of bad. I can handle those odds any day!

Steph said...

This book sounds really interesting. I'm just starting to hear about this series with the second book releasing. Great review!

Nicole Mainardi said...

This book sounds really good! I recently bought a copy of it, and I love the cover in real life. I can't wait to see what mythology there is. Great review Evie! :)

Sasa said...

sounds great

Danielle Smiley said...

I love your quote choices!!!
Danielle

Julie S said...

I've had this on my wishlist for a while. The folklore and fantasy combination just sounds too awesome. Thanks for the review!

SweetMarie83 said...

I've been seeing this book around since the beginning of the year, but I didn't actually know what it was about. It sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Great review, Evie! :-)

Barbara E. said...

From your review, I now have a much better idea of what The Gathering Storm is about. It sounds like an interesting story and I think I'll enjoy it.

Sofia Lazaridou said...

Great review!It made me to want to read the book

erin said...

thanks for the awesome review! This one is being added to my wishlist :)

Tiffany Mahaffy said...

I have wanted this one since I first lay eyes on its pretty cover! Then I read what it was about and got even more excited. Sadly it has yet to make it to my shelves!! Your review was awesome and seriously only made me want it more!!

Muhammad Irfan said...

sound so cool !
never met Novel which tells the story like this :)

Grace Lo said...

I've had this on my TBR shelf for a while, and loved your review! Usually, historical fiction of Russia set in that time period likes to use Anastasia as the protagonist instead, but I'm interested in reading on someone else!

Shadowrose96 said...

I own this but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I'm hoping to get around to it sometime soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Great review Evie!

Christine said...

Wow, I thought this book sounded good before, but now it sounds even better! I've always had a strange fascination with the history of Russia (especially the czars), so this book has always appealed to me on that level. But after reading your review, the way you describe it reminds me of something like Shadow and Bone. Definitely have to give this one a read! Thanks for the awesome review :)

Book Bunny said...

This book sounds interesting! Thanks for great review! :)

Angie F said...

I really enjoyed this one too, but I do agree about it being a little on the confusing side. I also wished Katiya wanted to learn more about her powers! That was probably my only complaint though.

Owl MoonShadow said...

This was a great book, can't wait to read the next one. Books with at least a little history fascinate me.

Nicole Mainardi said...

I actually have a copy of this one my shelves, but I just haven't gotten around to reading it. Great review Evie! :)

Lissa said...

This is a great book. I have always had a fascination with this time period, and adding magic, just makes it more fun.

magan bagan said...

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one or not, but the more I read it the more intrigued I became and just couldn't stop!

Definitely full of surprises and leaving you anxious for more :)

DeniseF said...

I love Russian History so when I saw this book I absolutely had to read it. I loved the mix of paranormal and historical fiction and I agree that the author obviously did a lot of research for this book.

Barbara E. said...

I enjoyed your review and I love the quotes you chose. I haven't had a chance to start this series yet, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Steph said...

Great review! This series sounds really interesting and different from anything else out there right now. Russian history and mythology sounds really cool! I really need to read this series soon!

Amy said...

I really thought I left a comment on this when I first read it. Guess not. I suck. This book sounds really good. I didn't really have any desire to read it, but I have just recently started to get into historical more so I think I would really like it. Awesome review.

Bookish in a Box said...

I love the sound of the plot (complicated, historical AND paranormal), but one of my bookish pet peeves is when characters repeatedly get themselves into trouble. So it sounds like The Gathering Storm would have to be a balancing act between the setting and Katiya.

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