400 pages, Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ARC courtesy of Random Buzzers
"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?"
When this book was first chosen as an Advance Reader's Copy on the wonderfully spectacular site, Random Buzzers, I read the chapter sampler and immediately fell in love!! Now, I know that you probably think that that is an over dramatic statement, but I literally flew to the question post page and hoped that author Robin Bridges would like my question. And when I opened my email the following week to find a confirmation email that I had received the book, I was ecstatic. So, I picked the book up and was reading when teachers were talking in class (I think that reading a great historical fiction book is more important that listening to your Personal Finance and AP English teachers, don't you?!)
Today, I started reading the last section of the book in my Personal Finance class and didn't put it down during my AP English class because it was at such an amazing climax! Finally, I went to theater practice and finished the last four pages. When I closed the paperback cover and put down my bookmark, I was so elated! This book is fantastic!
The historical research that went behind creating this book must have been very precise because the architectural detail of the Russian palaces, the clothing for the time period, and the very complicated Russian noble and royal titles are enough to show how brilliant Robin Bridges must be. She explains as a forward at the beginning of the book how Russian last names and titles are formed. Secondly, the slight glimmers of romance between the lead heroine, Katerina, and both the crown prince Danilo and Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, is just steamy enough that it kept me wanting to read more about their relationships.
The historical information is also masterly crafted and documented in this book. I found the many branches of Russian Royalty and their royal counterparts from other countries to be confusing at times, but eventually the same characters show up enough in the story line that I was able to differentiate them after a while. I was happy to be able to read a historical fiction/fantasy book that was not centralized in England or America. The Russian history and traditions were a breath of fresh air.
I adore this book and I can't wait to see how Katerina progresses in the next two books in the Katerina Trilogy.
Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.