Early Five Bat Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
*This title will be released on April 12, 2011*
Title: The Gathering
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal YA
- Reading level: Young Adult
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (April 12, 2011)
- ISBN-10: 0061797022
- ISBN-13: 978-0061797026
Mention of sexual relationships and a steamy make-out scene.
Near Perfect – Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.
Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
THE GATHERING begins with the most unlikely of settings for a paranormal YA, a classic “company town” set in a remote area of Canada. Like the famed company campuses of Silicon Valley, the families of Salmon Creek receive world-class perks. Despite the small town feel, the few residents can look forward to top notch schools and fabulous medical care for their children. When ominous events begin to cast a shadow over this idyllic Mayberry, Armstrong makes it difficult to identify the true threat to Maya and her friends, and just who in their sleepy little town they can trust.
The most unique aspect of this book was the teenagers’ reactions to the mystery unfolding around them. Neither preternaturally paranoid nor willfully obtuse, the teens of Salmon Creek follow their natural curiosity where it leads. And as this process takes them closer and closer to danger, the story folds in a phenomenal amount of character development. Even the bullies and the bad guys in THE GATHERING are human and well-drawn, a critical detail that makes Armstrong’s writing so satisfying (and makes it that much harder to spot the true threat). The villains of the story range from high school pettiness to sorcerous crime families, and I can honestly say that I only have inklings of who will be implicated in later books.
As for the main characters, while at times Maya seems just too witty and sassy to be true, these characteristics made her all the more entertaining to read (and made it all the more striking when she acknowledges personal shortcomings). The men in Maya’s life were particularly interesting as well, as Armstrong makes both Daniel and Rafe very attractive in different ways. Whether the well-liked best friend or the flirtatious bad boy, both guys reveal hidden depths before the books end. I have my own theory about which way this love triangle will tip, but Armstrong doesn’t leave too many hints laying around.
As much as I adored THE GATHERING in it’s own right, I can’t express how excited I was to catch hints of the Darkest Powers series as well, I can only hope Armstrong will bring characters from both series together in the long run. THE GATHERING is also a great gateway for someone who has yet to try Kelley Armstrong’s books. So many parts of the story are grounded and realistic, it makes it all the more striking when that “Thing That Goes Bump in the Night” steps out of the shadows. As I’ve already pre-ordered a copy of this book to pass on to a friend, this book has one of the most heartfelt five bat ratings I’ve offered yet.