Blog Tour ARC Review: “The Unfailing Light” by Robin Bridges

Welcome to Day 1 of my 2 day celebration of Robin Bridges’ new soon-to-be-released book The Unfailing Light! Today there is a review of the book! Tomorrow’s goodies are at the bottom. 😉 Don’t forget to check out all the other stops of the tour with their reviews, giveaways and more!

The Unfailing Light – Blog Tour

September 24th: Smitten Over Books ~September 25th: Casey’s Crew ~ September 26th: Much Ado About Books ~ September 26th: The Streetlight Reader ~ September 27th: Infinite Reads ~ September 28th: The Hiding Spot ~ September 29th: Girls *Heart* Books ~ October 1st: Mom Reads My Books ~ October 2nd: Magical Urban Fantasy Reads ~ October 2nd: The Book Review Club ~ October 3rd: The Book Review Club ~ October 4th: Kimba Caffeinated ~ October 4th: My Life is a Notebook ~ October 5th: My Life is a Notebook ~ October 6th: Candace’s Book Blog ~ October 7th: Reader Girls~ October 8th: Bookish ~ October 8th: Peace, Love, Books ~October 9th: YA Bibliophile ~ October 9th: Reader Girls ~ October 10th: Wastepaper Prose ~ October 10th: Imaginary Reads ~ October 11th: Imaginary Reads ~ October 12th: Well Read Wife ~ October 15th: Libby Blog ~ October 16th: Cracking the Cover ~ October 17th: A Bookish Libraria ~ October 18th: A Novel Review ~ October 19th: In the Best Worlds ~ October 20th: Tripping Over Books

The Unfailing Light (The Katerina Trilogy Volume II) by Robin Bridges

Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Thanks to the fantastic people at Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers for this ARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 9, 2012.

3 1/2 stars

BEFORE YOU READ, don’t forget to check out my review of book 1 of this series, The Gathering Storm. There WILL be minor spoilers out of necessity.

When I finished my review of the first book of this series, I mentioned that despite my problems with the first book I wanted the second one because I had hopes Bridges would settle into the story and much more of it would make sense.

My prayers were answered.

I was deeply worried I wasn’t going to be able to remember much from the first book and that I had done this review a deep disservice by forgetting to bring book 1 to college with me. I was genuinely surprised to find that the first part of the book did a really good job summerizing the events of book 1 while not dragging down the new events of book 2. Usually, this is not the case when authors do make the decision to remind the reader of what happened in the previous book.

As predicted, the ending of the last book was far too tidy and didn’t come to pass in this one. (The blurb tells you this.) Honestly, I was kind of annoyed that Katerina had to go back to Smolney after the global adventure I thought I was promised by the end of book one. The characters that surround her there were underdeveloped and flat in the last book and were the same in this one. (I also just don’t like school settings. Far too many clichés.)

Still, I found myself enjoying the beginning just because I felt more secure in what was happening. Bridges has severely paired down on the mythology that’s sprung on the reader and we’re given much more time to understand what all the different Russian folklore names are and mean. The differences in vampires and fae were made much clearer, and the werewolf connection was greatly expanded. My heart rejoiced.

At the same time, I have no idea why Katerina’s powers are downplayed for most of the book. The spell that’s cast on Smolney literally shuts it off, for the most part. She raises another person from the dead, yes, but we–and she!–still has no idea how that happens. There is nothing special that occurs, no attempt made to do so, no NOTHING. For being 2/3rds of a way through these books–with this supposed to be a focal point!–the fact that both us and Katerina herself are so in the dark seems to be disturbingly off.

The Danilo-Katerina-George thing is still going on, but honestly they weren’t around for much of the book which made me happy. The lack of typical love triangle gooey-ness is always a plus for me. Still, the whole situation seems strange, and Katerina questions it herself, but we’re still given NO ANSWERS about the blood bond, etc. And George as a character appears fairly bipolar and out of whack. I think this is supposed to be happening because George is falling towards the Dark Court, but it felt jumpy.

I think my biggest problem with this book was the pacing. I honestly forgot that there was only one more book to this series, not two or three. I wanted Bridges to slow it down and she did, but then it seemed like nothing was happening. The ghost that appears at Smolney isn’t as scary as she seems, and half the time Katerina forgets about her to think about George or something. It’s strange because SO many other things are going on, but the book seems to progress at a slow plod. But then, that could just be middle/second book syndrome kicking in.

Though I gave this book the same rating I gave book 1, I find it to be a large improvement over The Gathering Storm–in terms of understanding what’s going on. I feel much more confident about the mythology now, and I really want to reread book 1 because I feel like I’d be able to understand it a lot more. Many of the characters with the confusing names also became clear, and the large cast was cut down to a smaller number of important people who I could keep track of. The characterization itself still seemed to be a bit off, however. As I said, my biggest problem was the pacing just because I prefer my books to zoom at the speed of light. As with book 1, I felt the ending to be a bit odd. However, since it does leave me genuinely puzzled about where book 3 is going to go, I guess that’s a good thing? Either way, I completely intended to pick up the third and final installment. With all the questions yet to answer and the foes yet to be dealt with, there is no possible way that it could go anything but fast.


If either this review or my review of The Gathering Storm intrigued you, make sure you stop by again tomorrow! Not only will I have an interview with the author Robin Bridges, but there will ALSO be a giveaway courtesy of Random House. DON’T miss out!


5 thoughts on “Blog Tour ARC Review: “The Unfailing Light” by Robin Bridges

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