The Unfailing Light is Robin Bridges’ second volume in the Katerina Trilogy (you can read my review of the first book, The Gathering Storm here). The...moreThe Unfailing Light is Robin Bridges’ second volume in the Katerina Trilogy (you can read my review of the first book, The Gathering Storm here). The second book picks up just a few months after the end of Volume I. Katerina has spent the summer resting with her mother, aunt and cousin, counting the minutes until she can begin her dream of attending medical school and trying to forget the night she discovered she was a necromancer and the danger she could put everyone around her in, especially the man she loves, Grand Duke George Alexandrovich. But an unfortunate discovery in a dark cave forces the emperor to send Katerina back to the Smolny Institute for Young Noble Maidens, the finishing school she thought she was finally able to leave behind. Practically imprisoned for her own safety, Katerina must now deal with the constant scrutiny of the Montenegrin Princess Elena, the moody new girl—Princess Alix—and a strange presence threatening the safety of every girl at Smolny.
More often than not, I have found the second volume in a trilogy to be the weakest, disappointing me in more ways than I can count (best example—Crossed, the second book in the Matched trilogy). I am always hesitant to pick up the second book, (even though I almost always do). Well, Bridges doesn’t disappoint, instead she has written an engrossing novel that kept me flipping pages late into the night. She does not disappoint, keeping Katerina’s story flowing and interesting, without that boring lull that often appears in a sophomore book. If anything, I enjoyed The Unfailing Light more than The Gathering Storm. Maybe it was because this time I didn’t have to muddle through the various houses of Russian royalty, trying to remember who was who. While there are still a lot of characters to keep straight in this book, it seemed much easier this time around. Bridges also keeps the action coming, throwing things out that aren’t expected and keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Katerina next.
I find Katerina to be a very strong female character, especially considering the time in history in which she lived, but she did seem a bit more vulnerable in this book. I actually liked that; I felt that after all that happened to her in the first book, Katerina would be struggling to find her way. Watching her grow more and more confident in herself and her decisions just made the book better. Bridges manages to show that growth, along with the doubt and vulnerability Katerina experiences while never taking away what I liked about Katerina—her willfulness and independence. She just let those characteristics grow more pronounced as the book progressed. Katerina continues to be a character that young adult readers can look up to and enjoy.
The Unfailing Light is a fantastic addition to the Katerina Trilogy. It keeps the story moving forward, it’s entertaining and it is beautifully written. Just as she did in the first book, Bridges weaves a beautiful world, one made even more fascinating by the fact that it is based on actual people and history. I loved this book and I cannot wait for the next (and sadly last) book. (less)