Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges

Title: The Unfailing Light
Author: Robin Bridges
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Pages: 320 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

The Unfailing Light (Katerina, #2)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.


What happened? When I read The Gathering Storm, I was halfway in love with it, though there were a few elements that never impressed me. The plot was well-paced, Katerina was awesome, and the book knew just when to time a switch to another plot line. Either my tastes changed or The Unfailing Light is a serious step down in quality. I spent most of the novel wanting to scream at it.

Katerina is still nothing short of fantastic and I love her only slightly less for a reason that will become clear in a few minutes. Some will read her repeated mentions of how much she wants to become a doctor as too much telling with not enough showing, but it works for me somehow. I even started to grow a little fond of the Montenegrin princess Elena, though the efforts to give her deeper characterization are more than a little slapdash.

Where The Gathering Storm was well-paced and seemed to know exactly when I wanted to get back to another plot line that got put on hold, The Unfailing Light is not so well-paced. The ghost mentioned in the jacket copy does not become anything major until over halfway through the book, and only stubborn persistence got me through that slow, uninteresting first half. Then the ghost is taken care of fairly easily. Only the plot point barrier put up by the empress kept it from being dealt with sooner.

George and the love triangle didn't impress me the first time around, but this book made me hate George. He needs a swift, hard kick in the nads. The girl he loves is a necromancer powerful enough to bring back the lich tsar everyone is so afraid of (along with hurting George himself with a mere kiss) and he says it's too dangerous for her to know what he's doing? Really? Then Katerina forgives him with nary an objection for how he fails to give her the respect she deserves. This is why I lost a little love for her. Danilo isn't even fun anymore. Now he's just flat, creepy, and in need of a kick in the nads. What are his motives? For that matter, where are the motives for the majority of the cast?

Irritating as this novel was, I'm not sure I want to stick around for the final book of this trilogy. Katerina's story disappointed me and if the third book is going to end up doing the same, I'd rather not waste my time. It always sucks when this happens to a series I like.

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: Delusion by Laura J. Sullivan