The history of Russia has always intrigued me and I have long enjoyed both non-fiction and fictional tales on the region. The Gathering Storm could have been quite successful, although perhaps in the hands of someone like Ilona Andrews (actually Russian no less). The concept of paranormal creatures in the Russian court in the late 1800s really intrigued me. Unfortunately I felt the book was too heavy handed on the paranormal and too light on the historical fiction. Pretty much everyone in the book had some sort of power or was some sort of paranormal creature. Quite honestly this does not make an overly enjoyable story regardless of whether it is historical fiction of strict UF in many cases.
I became quite tired of all the balls Katerina kept attending/having to attend. I just don't find them terribly entertaining to read about, it is like someone talking about going to prom the entire book and they go about 20 times. No thank you! I felt as though all of the attempts to appeal to those in court reduced the ability of the author to truly characterize the main character. But I will say that I liked the fact that Katerina was pushing to be a doctor despite the time period. The paranormal elements in this one were also not terribly entertaining or fully drawn out.
Overall, The Gathering Storm left me wanting more. More historical elements, more character growth, and more paranormal ability exploration. The only thing it left me wanting less of was court balls!