by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Published by: HarperCollins
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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
I am ashamed to say that The Gathering is the first book I have ever read by author Kelly Armstrong. I am delighted to say it will not be my last. The Gathering is the first book in the trilogy entitled Darkness Rising. Armstrong’s urban fantasy brings us supernatural elements, Indian lore, romance and a town full of secrets. The tale grabbed me from page one, and while the pace wasn’t mind-boggling I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Gathering takes place on an island located across the water from Vancouver. The town folk all work for a highly classified lab, and there are around two hundred townspeople. The protagonist Maya lives with her adoptive parents in the park. Her dad is the park ranger. The lab demands total secrecy and they are all trained on what to do and say to outsiders. Surrounded by woods, cliffs and lakes, Maya feels right at home. She will be turning sixteen, attends the small high school and last year lost her best friend Serena, to a drowning. Her best friend is Daniel and he was Serena’s boyfriend. Maya takes care of injured animals and she has a gift for it. The town veterinarian is amazed at her powers to help animals recover. A recent increase in mountain lions, a nosy reporter, a cute boy and an old Indian woman calling her a witch turn Maya’s world upside down. The tale that unfolded was delightful and I loved Armstrong’s writing style. The town and its surrounding woods came alive for me, and the characters were unique and had depth.
I absolutely loved Maya. She is independent, witty, stubborn, loyal and inquisitive. She has a high moral code and she can sometimes be unyielding when she feels she has been wronged. Even though Maya was adopted, she really has no interest in her biological parents. She wishes she knew a little about her Indian ancestors and the birthmark that resembles a paw print. She is proud of the mark, and would like to enhance it with a tattoo. She loves working with animals, but has been experiences weird dreams and blackouts. In them, she feels as though she is the injured animal, or is an animal herself running through the forest. The whole thing scares her, and she wants answers. Serena’s death has impacted her, and she thinks it was more then an accident. She misses her best friend and worries about Daniel. Daniel is a sweet and loyal friend. She trusts Daniel; he has a sixth sense when it comes to people and danger. If he gets a bad vibe, she listens. The school they attend is very small, and Maya while liked, has issues with some of the kids. The new boy Rafe, who makes her stomach flutter and annoys her with his playboy antics suddenly takes a serious interest in her. I liked Rafe and the more I learned about him and his family, the more I cared. There were other colorful characters and I am hoping to learn more about them in book two. The romance was sweet and fragile. I am anxious to see how it develops and wonder if there is a love triangle in the making. *shivers*
Armstrong’s tale grabbed me from page one. The first part was fast paced and immediately drew me in. The middle slowed, which allowed me to take in the details and absorb the world she has created. The third half of the book progressed at a delightfully maddening speed to end in a cliffhanger. I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers. I get mad, run to see when the next release date is, then fall in love with the anticipation it’s created.
I highly recommend The Gathering to fans of urban fantasy, the supernatural and lore. I have added Armstrong to my list of must read authors, and look forward to reading her other series. The Gathering is available in paper, eBook and audio formats. The second book, The Calling will be released in April of 2012. I am very excited to have discovered this author.
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