Sixteen-year-old Katerina, a descendant of Russian royalty, is threatened with the evil sorcery of vampires in this first of a trilogy.
Attending a school for young noblewomen, Katerina feels she’s valued only for her potential for a good marriage but she wants a career in medicine, her true passion—not likely for a young woman in 1888 Russia. When classmates fall deathly ill, Katerina’s convinced that her roommate, Elena, Princess of Montenegro, one of a long line of “blood drinkers,” is causing the illnesses. Elena is also trying to force Katerina into an unwanted relationship with her handsome, controlling older brother, Danilo. Katerina possesses the dark magic of necromancy—the ability to reanimate dead things. Could that power be motivating the vampire’s domineering drive to marry her? Perhaps the ring Katerina has been given by an elderly woman with her own agenda can help her fend him off, or maybe George, the tsar’s younger son, an apparent ally and potential love interest, will help? The fully realized setting, a fantastical version of pre-revolutionary Russia, adds a level of believability to this debut. Many key players are well-rounded, though with most aligned with Dark or Light forces, readers may need a scorecard to keep track of all the alliances, as well as the complex, never clearly explained back story.
An atmospheric and complicated vampire tale that’s worth the effort of reading it. (Historical fantasy. 11 & up)