Empress of the Night ~ Eva Stackniak

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Year: 2014
Pages: 400
Rating: H ½
ISBN: 9780385666589

Book Blurb:
Catherine the Great muses on her life, her relentless battle between love and power, the country she brought into the glorious new century, and the bodies left in her wake. By the end of her life, she had accomplished more than virtually any other woman in history. She built and grew the Romanov empire, amassed a vast fortune of art and land, and controlled an unruly and conniving court. Now, in a voice both indelible and intimate, she reflects on the decisions that gained her the world and brought her enemies to their knees. And before her last breath, shadowed by the bloody French Revolution, she sets up the end game for her last political maneuver, ensuring her successor and the greater glory of Russia.

My Thoughs:
Remember that old saying, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Well, if I were to abide by this, I really wouldn’t have much to say about this book. But to quote another popular admonition, isn’t honesty always the best policy?

I had my reservations about this novel, I wasn’t overly impressed with Stackniak’s first novel about Catherine the Great, The Winter Palace, but I decided to give her another chance. Well, that was a waste of my time. By the time I was about 120 pages in, I was exasperated that there were still another 280 pages to go. Much like The Winter Palace, it was unbelievably long. I thought that the book was never.going.to.end.

The idea of an aged Catherine reflecting on her life, her reign, her legacy as the final moments of her life slip by, is an interesting idea, but Stackniak’s narrative is so fragmented and incoherent. The structure of the book is just strange; unless you know the history surrounding Catherine the Great, you can get very lost as there is no clear indication that the time has changed.

Another problem that I encountered was that there are HUGE gaps of time that are omitted. That being said, a lot of important parts of history and Catherine’s rule, are also omitted. The story just felt so disjointed and at times, totally random.

I found the characters to be very dull, dry and they never really developed. I was extremely disappointed with Catherine herself. In this novel she is portrayed as a love sick woman, not one of the greatest ruler in Russian history. I was bored with her constantly reminiscing about her past lovers. Get over it, you are the Empress of Russia. Where is the story of what made her “great”? Where are the politics? Her reign?

Sadly, I don’t think that I will be continuing to read Ms. Stackniak’s novels in the future. I do not recommend reading Empress of the Night.

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