Release Date ~ January 10, 2012
Delacorte Books for Young Readers ~ Random House
Review copy received from Random House Canada for review
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?
Imperial Russia has been a long-time fascination of mine, so I jumped at the chance to review The Gathering Storm as soon as I heard about it; and I followed its progress along, anxiously awaiting the time to read it.
And what started off as a slower paced, complicated story quickly won my attention and left me totally absorbed and finishes with a very different feel from most other YA books. This book won't be for every reader, but for those of us looking for something unique and magical this is the perfect fit!
- Magic and mysticism:
I loved how rooted this story was in dark mysticism and all things supernatural; there's such a creepy atmosphere well set up in the book. I'm only vaguely familiar with Russian folklore, and I've heard all the evil Rasputin stories, but I really liked how Robin took this idea and fully immersed it into the world she creates here. And the sinister ambiance is fantastic, and totally gave me chills at some parts. Necromancy isn't brought up that often in YA (at least, in it's more traditional negative connotation) and the way it was portrayed was incredibly interesting and exciting!
- Fans of historical fiction:
I had heard some people complain about the slower pace of this one, and it definitely is a less action-packed read than most of us are now used to. But I grew up reading so much historical fiction (Royal Diaries series, anyone?) and I quickly found myself getting used to the pace and all the details surrounding balls and social status. These kinds of details and information aren't that exciting to all readers, but if you can place yourself in the context then it really is fantastic. And Imperial Russia isn't a setting commonly used in stories, so bonus points for that!
- Katerina's development:
Katerina drastically grows and develops over the course of the novel; the girl she is at the end of the story only barely resembles who she was at the beginning. And it's so casually done that her growth feels entirely natural and plausible. She easily grew on me as a character, and I enjoyed seeing the little ways she tried to fight the expectations others had for her as a duchess.
But overall, my skepticism was won over towards the middle of the book and I clearly ended up loving it by the end! I'm deifnitely hoping to see some other plot points fleshed out more in the next book, but I like the direction it's heading in.