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. Quoted from Goodreads
What I loved. First off, the history. I know that sounds silly in a book full of vampires, necromancers, fairies, etc. but it's true. You can tell the author really did her research, lining up certain events in the book with real, historical happenings. It makes this series stand out from so many others. I love that George Alexandrovich really did travel to Egypt about that time, that Tsar Alexander III forbade women from attending medical school in Russia. It all played into the book's magical plot, but also fit historically.
Second, I really do love Katerina and George. Their relationship was adorable. I love how Katerina is, in many ways, a girl ahead of her time, but not in that annoying, transplanted 21st century girl thing so many books fall victim to. I love her passion for medicine and how that also fits into history. Then there's George. After the first book, I immediately had to look up what happened to him in real life. We all know what happened to his famous/tragic brother, but him? I had no clue. The nice thing about this series, too, is that despite its parallels to history, it offers more hope for change.
As for the action, there's plenty of it to go around. We get some interesting new threats, plus all the old ones come back . . . often in ways I didn't expect. There are Katerina's private struggles, her moments to shine, then there's the epic battle you sort of knew the three books were building towards. As for our villains, one is delightfully evil, the (sort of) other, ambiguously complex, and I love that. It keeps everything from getting too black and white, while also not allowing things to get too twisted into knots in the grey area.
All in all, this is a fun series, especially if you like alternate history or Imperial Russia. Honestly the book is probably a 3.5 stars for me, but because I enjoyed the series so much, I'm bumping it up to a 4. It's a very different book from so much of what's coming out right now, that I found it refreshing, interesting, and so much fun to read. I can't wait to see what Robin Bridges does next.