My first reaction after reading the synopsis of this novel was that the author was trying too hard. I mean, really. She had fantastical elements and historical fiction, but I was pleasantly surprised. The fantasy worked surprising well with the setting. Unlike other fantasy novels, the vampires, fairies, and necromancers actually fit well into the story.
However, the main thing that made this novel extremely difficult to get through was the voice of the narrator. The author tries to make Katerina feminist by giving her the goal of becoming a doctor; she tries to make Katerina witty and sarcastic (all things I would normally love), but it didn't work because her voice throughout the novel was stuffy. Even though the novel is written in first person, the reader never feels connected with Kat and feels removed from the situations. I think one of the main problems is the author does more telling than showing, and she uses a lot of cliche phrases in her writing. When describing Katerina's romantic encounter with an evil prince she uses phrases like, "I thought I would melt into the floor," and "My heart raced until I thought it would burst" (Bridges, 125).
The other thing that made this novel unreadable was the plethora of difficult Russian names. There was too many characters and too many familial relations to keep track of. It's probably more realistic, but I feel like it distracts from the story line.
The Gathering Storm is the first book in a trilogy, and I most likely won't be reading the other two novels. It's not really my cup of tea, but if you like historical fiction and fantasy, then you might want to give this novel a try.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hinsdale, Illinois USA