An afternoon spent solving quadratic equations would have been infinitely more pleasant.
The Gathering Storm is a paranormal fantasy that almost-almost worked for me. It is a paranormal novel starring necromancers, werewolves, vampires, and zombies set in 1880s Russia; the characters are aristocratic and often royal. Our heroine is a young woman named Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg. She's making her debut in society, and she's caught the attention of two men. One is the middle son of the tsar, his name is George Alexandrovich, at first Katerina is not impressed with him. The second is the crown prince of Montenegro, Prince Danilo, her first impression of him is much stronger. Then again, it could be because he's a vampire who has mesmerized her.
Is there a single character in this one that doesn't have at least one secret? And most of the main characters--the five or six 'main' characters--have DOZENS of secrets between them. This was truly a case of the main character not knowing WHO to trust. Could she have made better guesses at who to trust? Perhaps. Did the reader have a little more information? Not really. Sure, readers can make their own guesses as to who's telling the truth, who's lying, and who's being the MOST manipulative. What kept me from making predictions--or sticking with the predictions that I made early on--was the fact that you never do know for sure if/when authors are going to put in twists and turns and surprise you.
Did I care about the characters? Well, I almost cared about Katerina. And I did care about George Alexandrovich. I did like Katerina's father. The rest of the characters? Well, I almost-almost cared about some of them, but, some of them not even that much. There were SO VERY MANY characters, usually these characters were related to one another. And I could never remember who was who, who liked each other, who hated each other, who got along, etc. The politics did get confusing at times.
I think I would have liked this one more if it hadn't felt so modern. At times the historical setting worked for me, but other times I just didn't believe it. Katerina has ONE BIG DREAM, to go to medical school and become a doctor. But the universities in Russia do not accept women in their medical programs, and, her parents aren't quite willing to send their daughter away to another European university. But Katerina's dream to have a career remains strong. She hasn't decided against marriage, she hasn't embraced the single life. No, she wants a very open-minded husband who will celebrate her decision to work outside the home and have a career as a doctor. And Katerina seems genuinely surprised when the CROWN PRINCE frowns on her demands to be a working woman. Every time I see Katerina interact with the doctors in the hospital (or in private homes, for that matter), I was thrown out of the story a bit. I don't know how modern, how advanced, how scientific and research-oriented the medical field was in 1880s Russia, but, I do know that at this time in other parts of the world, it was not very. That the field of medicine was very different than modern medicine.
Does it work as a paranormal fantasy? Probably. This isn't my favorite genre, but, it has potential. Does it work as a romance? Well, it has potential. A little more time focused on romance would probably have been a good thing. But, what we do get of George was nice.
Read The Gathering Storm
- If you enjoy paranormal fantasies with light romance (love triangle of sorts)
- If you enjoy historical fantasy with some paranormal elements (vampires, zombies, werewolves)
- If you enjoy books set in Russia in the nineteenth century