The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
Sixteen year old Katerina of Oldenburg hides a dark secret from her aristocratic family: she can raise the dead. At an elite school for daughters of European royalty and nobility, she discovers a supernatural evil growing in 1880’s St. Petersburg. Now, she must protect her family, not only from the two dominant vampire families in the city, but must also keep them out of the power struggle between the warring fairy courts
The Gathering Storm is the debut novel of Robin Bridges and the first in her Katerina Trilogy. Bridges’ paranormal novel delivers, from the historical aspects of Russia to the supernatural. This was a delightful tale of vampires, fairies, werewolves, witches, necromancers and other supernatural creatures. A combination of Russian history and folklore make this an exciting, addictive read.
The protagonist Is Katerina Alexandrovna, she is the Duchess of Oldenburg, residing in Russia during the reign of Tsar Alexander III. Katerina is a necromancer, but she views this as a curse. She attempts to hide her gift and wants no part in using the ability. Once as a small child she used it, to save her mother’s cat, but she quickly realized the cat was wrong. Since she hasn’t even told her parents her secret, she understands very little about her ability and is fearful to share it with anyone.
Katerina is attending finishing school. A school which is more concerned with ballroom dancing then studies. Katerina longs to attend medical school at a time when woman are banned from being doctors. Her dearest friends are more concerned with catching the eye of the highest titled and richest young man. Katerina has been inspired by the first woman in the field and daydreams of going abroad to study. Alas, she has been born to an era where alliances and families’ incomes are dependent on securing good marriages for their daughters.
In a world filled with balls, gorgeous gowns, ballet, and musicals there is a dark underbelly filled with witches, vampires, werewolves and Fae all vying to secure their place. Katerina attracts the attentions of a powerful family, when she uses her gift to save a member of the royal family. As this family attempts to secure power, they use their skills to lure Katerina. Their young son uses his power and threats to woo her. At the same time she attracts the attentions of George (the Tsar’s middle son). He pledges to keep her safe, but she is constantly getting herself into trouble trying to solve things, and of course the young vampire Prince Danile wants to make her his bride.
The tale that unfolds is captivating and complex. People are being poisoned, guards are being murdered and bodies are rising from the dead. As Katerina struggles to uncover who is causing these attacks, she finds herself caught up in the middle of things. When she is offered help by elders, she finds herself confused as light fights dark. With Prince Danile and George breathing down her neck, can she save the royal family before it’s too late?
There is romance or the hint of it in this novel, but delightfully it takes a backseat to all the suspense, plots, and supernatural events. This book completely captured me, and it was delightful to see young Katerina come into herself and protect those she loves; even at great sacrifice to herself. I found other characters to be delightful as well. I liked George, and Katerina’s friends and even the dreadful Princess Elena.
I highly recommend this to fans of paranormal, suspense, and romance wrapped up in a historical setting. I am anxiously awaiting book two of the Katerina trilogy entitled The Unfailing Light, which is scheduled to publish in October of 2012. The Gathering Storm is available in paper and eBook formats.
I gave this novel 4 coffee cups out of 5.