Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, wants to be known as a doctor, not a necromancer. But Tsar Alexander III forbids women to attend medical school; his interest in Katerina extends only to her ability to raise the dead. Twice now, Katerina has helped him by using her power to thwart the forces of darkness—vampires bent on resurrecting the lich tsar Konstantin Pavlovich so that he can take what he sees as his rightful place on the throne. Katerina thought she had bound Konstantin to the Greylands, the realm of the dead, but he has found a way out. Now he is searching for the Morning Star, a sword that will allow him to command a legion of supernatural warriors.
Katerina must find the sword before Konstantin does—and she must travel to Egypt to do so. Along the way, she puts up with unwanted attention from her former fiancé, the nefarious Prince Danilo, and struggles with her feelings for her true love, George Alexandrovich. But with the looming threat from Konstantin, Katerina’s focus remains on the sword. Russia’s fate will be determined by whoever wields the Morning Star—and delivers the final blow.
Three and a half stars
Thanks to Random House and Delacorte Books for Young Readers for this ARC! This title will be released August 27th, 2013.
Well, this is it. The end of Katerina’s journey through legions of the supernatural and an (intentionally) lopsided love triangle. She has raised an army of the dead and fallen in love and fought fiercely to be allowed to be a doctor. Will Katerina get everything she desires, or will she let go of her dreams and her love for the sake of the lives of friends and family? Well, I know how this all turns out, and I was fairly pleased with the result.
I have always been a big fan of Katerina’s character, and this book really cemented that feeling for me. Throughout the book, Katerina sometimes seemed to be one of the few–if not the only one–willing to put all the personal drama or wishes aside for the good of everything else. Sometimes this trait can come off as annoying or cliche, but with Katerina I was shouting “WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING TO HER” at all the other characters at times. They brushed her off because she was a woman or because she was young or because they thought she was useless, and she stood there and demanded people to hear her.
The plot of this novel wore on me a little bit, however, because it felt like a lot of jumping around. This thing happened, and then this thing happened, and they were all connected but really coarsely– It was really confusing. I never settled into a rhythm with the book because it just wouldn’t stop. Now usually I’m a fan of this–I love fast paced books–but it went too fast even for ME to keep up, and as a result some of the biggest climaxes in the book passed right over my head because they lasted for like 2 pages and then we were moving on to the next thing.
I really appreciated how Bridges dealt with the pseudo-love triangle she had built up with Danilo, George and Katerina. It was made clear even prior to this book that Katerina and George were meant to be and Danilo was just trying to use Katerina for her power. It was never a real battle for her affections. That allowed this book to have a much more interesting dynamic between the three of them. I can’t say much more on that because I’m talking a lot about the last chapter of the book, but … I enjoyed it. Bridges made it different, and I liked it.
I will say, though, that I thoroughly recommend re-reading AT LEAST The Unfailing Light before jumping into this one. I didn’t, and as such my recurring problem with this series–the sheer number of kinds of supernatural beings and all the laws, allegiances, kinds, etc–came back in full force. This book adds even more supernatural beings, and not knowing exactly who was who or what was what gave me a bit of a headache. This are definitely not books you can just jump into when you want to if you want to know the small details about what’s going on. (For instance, Katerina kept referring to her mother as “the striga.” It was so impersonal it took me forever to realize who she was talking about.)
All in all, I say with confidence that fans of the first two books will not be disappointed by the ending to this series. All my wishes came true, and the ending certainly had a ring of realness to it–not just the “happily ever after”/”all the bows are tied” type of a finale. This was just the icing on the cake. If you enjoy the supernatural, Russian mythology, Russian history and a good love story, these books are most definitely for you!