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The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
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Mar 04, 12

bookshelves: young-adult, fantasy, book-review
Read in January, 2012

Excitement swelled in massive waves when I first caught a glimpse of The Gathering Storm. Besides my love for historical fiction, I have a serious fascination with the Russian culture, the language and history in particular, so of course I was thrilled to happen upon a novel set in Imperial Russia! From the lush scenery painted for us by Bridges's very talented hands, which makes us feel very much a part of a world we've only seen in snatches in the history books, to the riveting paranormal element embedded in the story, I'm content with the story I unearthed in The Gathering Storm, although I wasn't pitched over the moon by insurmountable joy and love.

Katerina, or Katiya, as she is called, a young woman too forward for her time, harbors a disturbingly dark power that she has kept buried since early childhood. At our first meeting, Katiya seems to be a strong, independent female capable of thinking without direction from others, who is admirably advanced in her desires for life. Yet, there were points where a connection wouldn't sprout from the seed Bridges carefully planted; there were moments where her character struck me with a certain lack of believability or general intelligence, which drove a formidable wedge between us. Brilliant potential emanates from Katiya but I haven't hopped on board her fanclub train yet; I'm still waiting to be wowed by her. And shadowing that thought comes the feelings of aloofness pervading the other characters, a missing connection that bothered me while I was reading. I desperately wanted to like these characters for their dazzling personalities, but I wasn't awed by them, including the romantic lead, merely enjoying them at a few points here or there.

During the first half or so of The Gathering Storm, I was enthralled by what I found within its pages. An intriguing mystery would surface here and there, and then everywhere. I was constantly being swiped at by the mounting suspicion and puzzlement over these seemingly normal Russian aristocrats. And when the clues were peeled away to reveal the ripe supernatural secrets smeared over each of the members of Russian royalty, I was ecstatic! I thought, this, this, is where the novel will get explosive! And in those first few moments of shining discovery, the paranormal aspect was totally engrossing. But then between the confusing names and royal titles and the bewildering histories, throwing in a supernatural element seemed to overwhelm the story and changed it so that the plot appeared foggy, dare I say a tad cluttered. When the latter half ended, I was left with this faint disappointment at the turn of events headed toward the ending.

I am content with the story overall, but it had its bumps and awful spins that nearly eclipsed my comfortable liking for this book. Although I wanted to be sucker-punched by it's awesomeness, The Gathering Storm is, at best, a decent, likable novel. I'm hopeful that the rest of the series will turn out to surprise me in the best possible ways.

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