The Morning Star, by Robin Bridges

The Morning Star, the final book in Robin Bridges's Katerina trilogy, exhibits the same strengths and weaknesses as her previous two installments. The story is ridiculously over-stuffed with monsters and plot twists, but it's hard to fault an author for having too much ambition, particularly when the end result is still pretty readable.

The novel opens shortly after the events of 2012's The Unfailing Light. Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, still dreams of becoming a doctor, but the Tsar refuses to let her attend medical school, claiming that her skill as a necromancer makes her too valuable to leave the Russian Court. Determined to continue her studies (and save her ailing love interest, George Alexandrovich), Katerina has begun studying Eastern medicine with a Tibetan physician. Unfortunately, neither George nor the Tsar are capable of protecting Katerina, and she is promptly kidnapped by Danilo, the vampire prince of Montenegro, who is currently time-sharing his body with the spirit of Konstantin, the undead former heir to the Russian throne. Danilo/Konstantin drags Katerina off to Egypt, where they believe they will find the legendary sword of Lucifer, which will allow them to control the Grigori, an army of fallen angels.

...see what I mean about too many monsters and an over-stuffed plot? (Vampires and zombies and body-swapping, oh my!) All of these ideas are interesting, but there are waaaay too many of them to properly appreciate any individual elements. Katerina's mother, for example, has a magical ability that could fuel a trilogy by itself, but in Bridges's story the woman barely qualifies as a minor character. The fact that the tangled romantic drama and frenetic action sequences manage to be both comprehensible and engaging is a testament to Bridges's skill as a storyteller—but I still felt she could have edited her series down by a solid 50%.

Review based on a publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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