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Monday, February 6, 2012

"The Katrina Trilogy Vol. 1 ~ The Gathering Storm" by Robin Bridges

Published by:  Delacorte Press/Random House Children's
Pages:  395
Genre: YA Fiction/Paranormal
Author's website:

Cover Rating: Upon first glance, what a beautiful cover which is obviously a Russian depiction of a girl...Katrina?  The icy, light glistening swirls gives the impression that there's something magical in the book.  I love the font chosen for this cover!  I also love that the girl/model they chose is age appropriate to the book.  Small nitpick: the author's name color is off; an icier blue would have worked better. The hidden thing about this cover is that it's very pleasing as you read it because it tells secrets you wouldn't otherwise know unless you were reading it. That's just plain fun.   Rating: A+


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?

Read an Excerpt Here:

The Dame's Review:
Are you a Tolstoy fan?  I loved War and Peace and Anna Karenina so Russian names don't intimidate me, nor does anything Russian. I cut my wisdom teeth in high school reading about Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. I love St. Petersburg and needlepointed a pillow or two to commemorate it.  I've cried over the butchering of the Romanov Family and wondered about the girl called Anna who said she was the youngest surviving daughter of the bloodthirsty Russian rebellion.

 But, if you aren't an aforementioned fan or a Russian history buff, or if you don't care for the complexities of their names and places and royalty...this book may be a tad taxing on you. You may have to flub the names a bit.

 As for me; I found it an absolute treasure!  Someone couldn't have handed me a Godiva chocolate-encrusted, faux Fabrege' egg with pastel icings on it to make me happier!  I just ate this book up...and will someone please bring me Volume II of this series asap?

Robin Bridges may be a nurse, but she is also a fabulous writer with an imagination and uncanny ability to place paranormal characters into real Russian royalty as if they were born to it.  Amazing literary talents.  Her characters just gleamed off the page with magical qualities and intrigue. They are beautiful and dark, brittle as glass and soft as fur, frightening and furious.  Just a melting pot of interesting and provocative people that I was so excited to meet and can't wait to continue to know more.

The settings Robin creates are dazzling and realistic. I felt the stifling heat of a ballroom lighted by candles and fireplaces...too cramped and crushed by too many bodies dancing furiously to gypsy-played music...too much danger and excitement for a young girl approached by a would-be blood drinker.  Her street scenes, scenes of palaces and hospitals, opera houses and theatres are vivid and lush.  Even her descriptions of the Princesses in their girl's school with their strict teachers fits her storytelling realism because the Smolny School actually existed in the 1800s.

I felt breathless when the fierce rival of the empress, the powerful and beautiful Maria Pavlovna, wife of the Grand Duke, was described in her deep purple ballgown and diamond tiara, dark violet eyes blazing, frightening and powerful as the queen faerie of The Dark Court.  See this picture from Robin's website of what she may have looked like:
An actual picture of Maria Feodorovna of Russia, 1885
What particularly saved the day for me in this young adult novel, fit for adults, is the emphasis on Katiya's desire to be a doctor in a time when royal girls were trained and primed to be royal wives.  This theme of an independent thinking young woman who has intellectual goals for her life is refreshing and unusual in paranormal/fantasy writing for YAs.  I give Ms Bridges hundreds of "high 5s" for that alone in her fantastic book.

In summary, "The Katrina Trilogy..." is a wonderful read.  It is a book I raced through, losing track of time when I only wanted to read a couple of chapters and go to bed!  I was fascinated with the book because it tripped the fine line of reality and mixed it with the fanciful in such a remarkable way.  It does that dance and has you enchanted before you know what's happened, and you can't put the book down. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, pure entertainment in the best sense of the word.  Believe me when I say, you must read this one!

5 shimmering stars

PS:  Special treats:  Finding out what the Romanov Empress and Queen Victoria's favorite romance novel was.  Finding out the Empress's favorite processional was from "The Snow Maiden" by Rimsky-Korsakov.  Finding out what certain of the tarot cards mean. Etc...



Jennifer | Mrs Q Book Addict

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this one. I have a copy for review.

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