Author: Robin Bridges
Genres: ya, necromancy, historical, paranormal, magic
Source: ARC from Random House
Rating: 3.5 stars (a good read)
Summary: Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.
I haven't met many people who've heard of this series, so I consider it a nice, quirky find for those who do stumble across it, like me.
The genre in general is historical fiction. But that barely scratches the surface. There's every sort of paranormal creatures in here and sometimes they're under different names. Like vampires are also known as Veshtiza or Vladiki...depending on what kind of blood drinker you--I mean they--are. So it's not just the average paranormal but filled to the brim integrating the old Russian lore (I'm assuming) to make it really fascinating. Other creatures besides the various vampires, are zombies, (after all, this is a necromancy book) and the odd faerie or two from the Light and Dark Courts.
The love interests, George and Danilo, aren't actually in too much of the novel. George is off studying in Paris on some super secret wizarding mission, and Danilo is busy creepily reading Katerina's thoughts at random times of the day. George can also read her thoughts, but only within close range...because that's better. :P Overall though, they are great as the two "good guy" and "bad guy" roles, but unlike in The Gathering Storm they switch roles here and there, making their characters not as flat.
Katerina, our protag, really has some of the worst luck. She's "cursed" with the power of necromancy but really has no control over it. That means zombies pop up randomly, and lots of people hate her. To me, it seems like she needs lessons in necromancy because she doesn't do much except kind of freak out and lets things happen to her. I was hoping for some real taking-charge attitude from her in The Unfailing Light but unfortunately she's still afraid and confused as to what she can do. I really hope she grows as a character in the last book to finally get to attend medical school as well as embrace her powers as a necromancer.
Like the first, there are sooo many long Russian names and "of this and that place and title" to follow it. I am interested in Russia so all that is totally likable for me, but it may annoy some people with the complexity of it. I find it brilliantly creative.
Most of the time I liked the writing, but here and there the sentences felt a little stilted and not put together as well as they could have been and I noticed some repetition in descriptions. I have an ARC though, so that's subject to change. I have no doubt the third and last installment in this series will be even better, and I can't wait to see what happens to Katerina and her powers...
If you like this series, or think you might, here are some similar books/series you may enjoy:
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Harbinger by Sarah Wilson Etienne
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Die For Me by Amy Plum
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but that in no way affected my views and opinions on the book, it's completely unbiased.
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