Empress of the Night: A novel of Catherine the Great

Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the GreatEmpress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I would like to begin this review by saying that this review is in no way a judgment of the author or her abilities. I am basing the following review on my feelings about this book in particular, not the series as a whole.

I did not love this book. This is my favourite historical period and one that I have studied at great length, so I really wanted to enjoy this novel and came to it with higher expectations (perhaps a tad unfair) than most books I approach. I accept responsibility for that.

The one thing (other than the cover) that I really did like about this book was the idea behind the story. Having Catherine recollect her former life at the time of her stroke was interesting and in my opinion, an unusual approach that was both ambitious and exciting. Sadly, I did not feel that this book filled that potential. Here is why:

In my opinion, this book spent a lot of time dwelling on the former lovers and amorous affairs of Catherine and not enough time describing her political prowess. She was famous for many things, but her mind and ability to make incredibly bold decisions and follow through with her ideas was certainly one of the most amazing things about her.

The narrative featured a lot of bouncing around from her current life to her recollections and often the line was blurred to where it was hard to follow which part of her life you were in. This book did not have the same approach as the first book, and that may be a large part of the reason I felt lost.

For a book from such a wonderful author and about such a well and diversely documented subject, I expected this to be on point, ordered and exciting. I found myself getting bored with the parade of historical boyfriends and love affairs listed.

My overall opinion? Catherine was less than great in this book.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

16 thoughts on “Empress of the Night: A novel of Catherine the Great

  1. In many ways it is good to see a one star review, since so many reviewers shy away from either rating a book that they have had issues with, or with actually reviewing it publicly at all. This is a shame, since all honest opinions are valid, and help readers to gain a greater view of a book before deciding if it is appropriate for them. Reading is such a subjective pursuit, and any single book will always be viewed differently by different readers.

    I like the idea of looking back at Catherine’s life at the time of her stroke. It is an interesting concept. However, one would expect that this would involve all aspects of her life and not focus on just one part of it. Interestingly a one star review makes me want to read a book as much as a five star review, since I want to be able to form my own opinion on it and see if I agree with the reviewer.


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