Author: Robin Bridges
Release Date: October 9, 2012 (hardcover)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Copy provided by publisher
Overall: 4 Stars
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 loved the blend of historical fiction meets supernatural which Robin Bridges first introduced in The Gathering Storm, and couldn't wait to enter Katerina's world all over again in The Unfailing Light. Just like in the first novel, the opulent lifestyles of the aristocracy in imperial Russia continued to enchant me, sweeping me away to glittering palaces and mansions.
Just when Katerina believes she can finally leave St. Petersburg and travel to Zurich, Switzerland to pursue her dreams of studying medicine, the tsar orders her instead to return to her old finishing school, Smolny Institute, where she can be better protected. The empress casts a spell on the school preventing anyone supernatural to leave or enter the grounds, but she also unknowingly awakens a vengeful ghost. And to make matters worse? Konstantin and his followers still very much pose a threat to Russia...
The handsome and magnetic Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro was still infatuated with Katerina more than ever before, but she was understandably wary to accept any of his help after the events which occurred in The Gathering Storm. Katerina's heart may belong to Grand Duke George, the tsar's son, but she was afraid to let him reciprocate those feelings because of her association with the Dark Court. She feared the darkness within herself could hurt only hurt him.
Katerina's character frustrated me sometimes in the novel. While I admired how she would do anything to protect the people she cared about, I wished she wouldn't be so afraid to embrace her abilities as a necromancer. Katerina would throw herself into potentially dangerous situations, but she wouldn't arm herself with more knowledge about her own capabilities, something which would have certainly helped her during those times.
Robin Bridges's The Unfailing Light is a suspenseful page-turner which will leave you anxiously awaiting the release of the final novel in The Katerina Trilogy. Beneath the glamour of imperial Russia, Robin Bridges has envisioned a world where the Dark and Light Faerie Courts try to grasp more power... and other creatures of the night lurk in the shadows.
Thanks so much to Random House Canada for providing this review copy!