I wanted to love this so much! Imperial Russia? Necromancy? Dark Magic? You had me at hello! Unfortunately, this is a 2 star book for me.The setting, folklore, and history have all been well researched and it shows. The paranormal aspects are fascinating and fit naturally within the story, even though there is a lot going on in that department. The plot drags a little in the beginning and middle, but the end makes up for it. Most of the characters felt very flat and nondescript, which is why I had trouble from time to time remembering who was who and why they were even there.Katerina is the only character that really evoked any emotion from me. I appreciated that she had ambitions and was willing to defy societal standards to be a doctor because she wanted to help people and do something with her life. She always wanted to take responsibility for her actions, particularly when related to her necromancy. At times Katerina could be frustrating. She kept most of her troubles to herself, despite having a very understanding and loving family. She also forgot or ignored good advice from people who knew the court going-ons (Stay away from Danilo, Katerina! Here, since you won’t stay away, have this ring that will keep you from falling under his spell! Damnit, why aren’t you wearing the ring! Well, now you’re screwed, Katerina! Have fun being engaged to, the painfully obvious, evil Danilo!). Despite her dumb decisions I still found myself liking Katerina. Regarding the “romance”, I never felt there was a build-up to Katerina and George’s relationship. Katrina just thinks of him as cold and standoffish most of the time, but at some point that does change. . . . I just can’t remember when. I didn’t love it but I didn't hate it either. There was nothing that made me incredibly happy, enraged, or sad it was all just kind of meh.