The Unfailing Light (Katerina #2) by Robin Bridges
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published Oct. 9th 2012 by Random House
Lush and opulent, romantic and sinister, "The Unfailing Light, " Volume II in The Katerina Trilogy, reimagines the lives of Russia's aristocracy in a fabulously intoxicating and page-turning fantasy.
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 am a big fan of historical fiction, but you add in some paranormal and it's even better! On top of that this is a setting I have not read about before this series, so that's fantastic as well. I love that we are dealing with Russia's aristocracy and I think it's a unique idea that has been brought to these pages.
I enjoyed the first book but had some troubles with it because of all the titles and all the paranormal. It was overwhelming and confusing to me. I couldn't keep it all straight. But even though it's been nearly a year since I read the first book I had very few issues with this one. I believe that it was less muddled and the author did a great job of keeping things less confusing. Sometimes the titles of all the aristocrats is rather confusing, but I think that we are now getting to know them better so it's getting straight in my head. I also think that maybe she was more careful to not just call them by the titles but used their names as well (more so then in the first book) and so this kept it all less confusing. As far as the paranormal goes- there's still a lot of paranormal creatures in the book. There's fae, werewolves, wizards, vampires, necromancers, and the list goes on. But this time around I LOVED it! I was not at all confused and I didn't feel like she did overdid it. It was the perfect amount and made the story even more interesting.
I really love Katerina. She has some dark powers, but she's an honestly good person. She does the best she can by others and is very considerate of other people. She puts her own needs last, I suppose you could say. She's not boring in any way whatsoever and is incredibly brave and daring without being downright stupid in her decisions.
The romance was definitely good, but it took a bit of a backseat. It wasn't predictable though, as we get hints that something may be amiss on two different fronts. Could the evil Danilo perhaps be more than we thought? Or could George be someone other than who we thought he was? I loved that the author made us question ourselves and who we think we are loyal to without bringing in an annoying love triangle.
The book wasn't fast paced really, but I thought it went at a perfect pace for me. I was able to soak up the setting, the time period and all the characters without things getting muddied up. I wanted to keep reading and never wanted to put the book down as I was desperate to spend more time in this amazing Russia that we have been introduced to.
I definitely recommend you pick this series up. Keep in mind the difficulties I had with book one, and remember that book two is a much easier read and everything comes together fantastically.