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?
This has tons of elements that I would usually love in a story: Magic, witchcraft, Imperial Russia, a Mr. Darcy-type character, vampires, all that stuff. This book just didn’t do it for me. At all. I think I read about a quarter of it and gave up. I skimmed through the rest and everything that I thought was going to happen did.
It wasn’t even that the story was necessarily bad. It’s that the writing was so bad. It was obviously the author’s first book. Maybe it was just the pacing. At one moment the protagonist, Katiya, would be in one place, then a sentence later she was somewhere else. No real movement in the book. It was the same with emotions. There was no exploration of feelings, just a statement: “I felt anxious.” Ok, well, that’s boring to read. How did she feel anxious? What did she do because she was anxious? Make it more interesting, dangit!
And then all the names were confusing. Before the book even begins there’s a little blurb telling readers how names were given in Russia and how to determine what a person’s proper name is and what their nickname is. So, clearly, someone had pointed out to the author that referring to a single person with three or four separate names/titles was confusing. Instead of just editing her book to make it less confusing, Bridges wrote a small paragraph before the book even began basically saying, “This is going to be confusing. Refer back to this page every time a new character is introduced.” I was confused the entire time I was reading. I could not remember who was who because they were all referred to by different names every time they were mentioned. And, like, ten people were introduced at a time. Not a good way to go, let me tell you! Not only were the names confusing but because so many people were introduced together I got confused by who did what anyway.
So the idea was there. This book could have been awesome. Pacing and writing made it no so much. Pity.
Sexual Content: Mild
Drugs/Alcohol: Mild (I think; I don’t really remember)