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ARC Review: The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm

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Purchase: Amazon | BookDepository
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Romance
Special: YA Historical Fiction Challenge
Source: NetGalley
Rating: Guilty Pleasure
Hover over Books in the navigation bar above to find a link to My Rating System In-Depth.

About the Book:
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?
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. This tree is tangled with all the rest of Europe's royalty, and like many in that forest, my family tree is poisoned with a dark evil...

Excitement swelled in massive waves when I first caught a glimpse of The Gathering Storm. Besides my love for historical fiction, I have a serious fascination with the Russian culture, the language and history in particular, so of course I was thrilled to happen upon a novel set in Imperial Russia! From the lush scenery painted for us by Bridges's very talented hands, which makes us feel very much a part of a world we've only seen in snatches in the history books, to the riveting paranormal element embedded in the story, I'm content with the story I unearthed in The Gathering Storm, although I wasn't pitched over the moon by insurmountable joy and love.

Katerina, or Katiya, as she is called, a young woman too forward for her time, harbors a disturbingly dark power that she has kept buried since early childhood. At our first meeting, Katiya seems to be a strong, independent female capable of thinking without direction from others, who is admirably advanced in her desires for life. Yet, there were points where a connection wouldn't sprout from the seed Bridges carefully planted; there were moments where her character struck me with a certain lack of believability or general intelligence, which drove a formidable wedge between us. Brilliant potential emanates from Katiya but I haven't hopped on board her fanclub train yet; I'm still waiting to be wowed by her. And shadowing that thought comes the feelings of aloofness pervading the other characters, a missing connection that bothered me while I was reading. I desperately wanted to like these characters for their dazzling personalities, but I wasn't awed by them, including the romantic lead, merely enjoying them at a few points here or there.

During the first half or so of The Gathering Storm, I was enthralled by what I found within its pages. An intriguing mystery would surface here and there, and then everywhere. I was constantly being swiped at by the mounting suspicion and puzzlement over these seemingly normal Russian aristocrats. And when the clues were peeled away to reveal the ripe supernatural secrets smeared over each of the members of Russian royalty, I was ecstatic! I thought, this, this, is where the novel will get explosive! And in those first few moments of shining discovery, the paranormal aspect was totally engrossing. But then between the confusing names and royal titles and the bewildering histories, throwing in a supernatural element seemed to overwhelm the story and changed it so that the plot appeared foggy, dare I say a tad cluttered. When the latter half ended, I was left with this faint disappointment at the turn of events headed toward the ending.

I am content with the story overall, but it had its bumps and awful spins that nearly eclipsed my comfortable liking for this book. Although I wanted to be sucker-punched by it's awesomeness, The Gathering Storm is, at best, a decent, likable novel. I'm hopeful that the rest of the series will turn out to surprise me in the best possible ways.


Penelope Lolohea said...

A very thorough review. I love your thoughts! I think I'll get this book one day when I just need to relax and have an enjoyable book.

Also: LOVE your cute rating system!

Samual said...

I've heard the book is pretty good! I like the sounds of it. Great review. I am sure one of my friends will enjoy this kind of book. Thank you for sharing!! ^__^

How are you?? Long time no see.

Books For All Seasons

Brodie said...

You always write such engaging (and as Penelope said above), thorough reviews! It's such a shame that this had you so engaged with the plot for the first half, then sort of fell flat throughout the second. And it does sound like Katiya has potential, so hopefully that will shine through more prominently in the sequel? The Russian aspect definitely fascinates me too! Fabtastic review!

Steph Su said...

I was wondering about this book. Like the concept, but I'm still not too sure if it's a "me" type of book, because of the un-wow factor that you talked about. I will continue to think about whether or not I should give this one a shot. :)

roro said...

i so long 4 this bummr its not availble here

Missie said...

Sorry you were unable to connect to Katiya as you hoped. I can understand your frustrations because I recently experience much the same as what you described with heroine. And sadly, I can't think of a single book I've read that deals with Russian culture. You're opening intrigued to find one. Thanks Asher!

Elodie said...

I've received this one 3 days ago and I'm realy curious about it .. I've read some negative reviews on it though and I'm afraid I won't enjoy it as much as I thought..
Thanks for the honest review :) !!

LoriStrongin said...

Bit of a bummer to hear this book isn't 100% awesome because ditto of my love of historical fiction and brownie points for the Romanov-era Russia setting. I'll still probably read it just for those reasons alone, but I'll go in expecting some characterization hiccups, too. Thanks for the heads up!