I enjoyed reading this book set in Russia during a time when modern medicine is overtaking the old superstitions and traditional thinking.
Our heroine is Katerina, a minor member of royalty. There are two courts one light and the other dark. The book doesn't say so until near the end that her family are considered to belong to the dark court.
Katerina remarks earlier in the book that her mom manages in-between the two courts because of her interest in the occult.
Katerina even discovers during one of her mom's seances that she has the curse of necromancy.
She accidentally brings a toad back to life. She thinks of her gift as a curse and shamelessly hides until for most of her youth. She longs to become a doctor but it is illegal for girls to learn medicine in Russia.
It isn't until she brings a moth back to life because she is attempting to save the Tzars son from a love spell from her classmate that her secret is discovered. His brother spends most of the book berating her, accusing her, insulting her,etc. all the while ignoring the glaringly obvious evil people in the court. I was disappointed I made the right call in pointing him out as a love interest.
If a heroine spends any time in the book noticing a guy's breeches or other clothing items [she noted his swishing cloaks]... he is almost always the love interest.
I can't blame her for not letting anyone into her confidences since she feels such shame of her gift. She thinks everyone will hate her. The way George berates her it isn't any wonder.
The only wonder is why it's not okay not to accept her wanting to be a doctor but calling her evil is okay?
Many of the royalty want to use her power. I have a hard time swallowing all the dark court are bad and the light court are good since her own parents are depicted to be quite nice people. Maybe this will be touched on in the sequel. The German princess Alix is up to something. She was described as smiling shyly a lot. She never smiled any other way.
Smiling to hide Vampire teeth, perhaps?
The book was best when it dealt with her classmate Elena and her creepy family. She poisons her classmates and others in the town and sends moths to suck their blood at night.
Elena's family the Montenegrins force Katerina into becoming engaged with the oldest son, Danilo. At times I tried to forget he was only seventeen when he seduced her but sometimes I couldn't.
I remember I am older than the target audience but it was difficult to see him as a threat. His sisters are much scarier. He's like Leo Dicaprio in Man in the Iron Mask or Princess Joffrey on Game of Thrones. Laughable and spoiled. Then I think of the poor citizens of their kingdom and wish this book touched on how they felt about their Vampire Royal Family.
The revolution is far away for those poor people and then it won't get any better.
Here's to hoping we see outside of the privileged life of the ballrooms and courts in the next book.