Monday, January 2, 2012

Early Review - The Gathering Storm (Katrina Trilogy, Book 1) by Robin Bridges (3.5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Paranormal
Size: 400 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 10, 2012
ISBN: 978-0385740227
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Katrina Trilogy
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through Amazon Vine to review. This is the first book in the Katrina Trilogy; I was intrigued by both the necromancy and the Russian setting in this novel. It was a decent read; engaging but with a few issues.

Katrina is a Russian Duchess with a dark secret; she can raise the dead. As people in the royal circle learn her secret Katrina is drawn into a struggle between the nation and evil. The handsome and darkly mesmerizing Prince Danilo wants Katrina to help his family with some questionable business, on the other hand the standoffish George Alexandrovich wants Katrina to help protect the tsar. A complicated web of politics and intrigue is woven around Katrina and she needs to sort out who is evil and who is trying to work towards the greater good.

There were a number of things I really enjoyed about this novel. The Russian setting was interesting and learning more about Katrina's necromancy powers was fascinating. The plot is twisty turny and you never know what Katrina is going to run into from one page to the next. The book starts out slowly but I found the second half of the story very engaging and enjoyed how Katrina's part played out in the complicated good vs. evil struggle between the members.

Katrina is an okay female lead. She is pluky and at times funny, she seems pretty tough too. I didn't like her constant snarkiness and disdain for all of her friends though. She seemed upset at the role women played in society but then snubbed every woman in society; I wished she had been a bit more caring and open. I did enjoy her obsession with medical science; it made for some interesting scenes in the book.

George was a decent male lead; he is an interesting and mysterious character. Danilo was a predictable dark and dangerous type. Many of the characters in this book are complicated and have a lot of depth to them.

That brings me to one of the first problems with this book; the sheer number of characters. There is a ton of Russian royalty in this book. Characters are called by their first names, their last names, and their titles. Not being familar with Russian nobility I had no idea who had higher status Duchesses, Nobles, Princesses, etc. Apparently there are a ton of Princesses in Russian society at this time. I couldn't keep them all straight and kind of just gave up and went with it after a while. Unfortunately who has what bloodline in their past plays a bit part in the story. It would have helped to have a little chart of Russian royalty in the front of the book or even a quick list of who's who.

The second thing I didn't like about this book was Katrina's constant hopping from ball to ball. Seriously for the first half of the book Katrina gets ready and goes to a ball, then she goes to bed, then she's going to another ball. For a girl who is trying to buck societal trends and go to medical school she sure does spend a lot of time at balls...balls where you get a ton of Russian names thrown at you that are impossible to keep track of.

The story ends at a good spot. And I did end up finding the story engaging and interesting by the second half of the book. The first half of the book dragged though.

Overall this was a decent read. The Russian setting, the twisty plot, and the interesting necromancy make it worth reading. The barrage of Russian names and the constant ball attendance made the beginning a drag, in the end though I ended up engaged in the story and found it an interesting read. I am kind of on the fence about whether or not I will read the next book in this series; I will probably wait and see what others think first. I would tentatively recommend to fans of historical fantasy that like lots of politics and intrigue in their stories.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge

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