Monday, June 4, 2012

Storm Clouds Above Us

Published: January 10th, 2012
The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy #1)
Delacorte Books For Young Readers
ISBN-13: 9780385740227

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?


   Katerina is a Duchess, related to the Tsar through blood and living in a glittering world of balls and aristocrats.  But in 1888, Russia is a dangerous place to have the ability that Katerina was born with - she is a necromancer, able to raise the dead and use them.  The court of the Tsar is split into light and dark, those who want to protect the current order and those who wish to overthrow it.  All Katerina wants is to be a doctor like her Father.  Coming home from finishing school, she hopes to persuade her parents to her way of thinking.  But she is drawn into the Palace intrigues against her will, when she is forced to use her power to save the Tsar's heir.  As vampires, werewolves, witches and fae all try to use Katerina for their own ends, she must find a way to do what is right in the face of serious danger to herself and her loved ones.  Will she allow herself to be used by Prince Danilo of Montenegro for a dark ritual or follow her heart as it leads her to George (the Tsar’s middle son)?  Most importantly, can she save the royal family before it’s too late?  I thought the subject matter of this book was truly interesting.  Not very often do you find a book set in Russia in the 1880s, with supernatural elements, that is in the YA genre!  I liked the inclusion of necromancy, when it is usually the illegitimate brother of the other supernatural persuasions.  Most of the side characters were sufficiently fleshed out, but I didn't find myself connecting to anyone other than Katerina and George which disappointed me.   I like political intrigue as much as the next history fan, but it felt like it dragged through this book rather than lifted it up.  There was a lot of action, but I felt like the boring parts were also too plentiful and really caused me to slog through an otherwise awesome book.  Overall, really liked the concept but the execution could have used some more work.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

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