The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Darkness Rising, #1


An ordinary town...
full of deadly secrets

Strange things have been happening in sixteen-year-old Maya's small Vancouver Island community - from the mountain lions that have been constantly approaching her to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations. There's also a sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

"The cougar-a ragged-ear old top I clled Marv-just stared at her, like he couldn't believe anyone would be dumb to climb a tree to escape a cat.”

I love Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, but this was my first time trying one of her young adult series. Her writing style worked fine for this genre, easy to focus on and a breeze to get through.

Not much happens until after 50% into the story, but it’s still easy to stay focused on the character-focused book. The small town setting is almost a character in itself, and there are different animals that throw out hints about the main character’s hidden abilities. Set in Canada, the tiny town is a called a medical community of sorts, which is just odd but totally works. Maya’s father is the park ranger so animals and the surrounding woods have much to do with the story. There’s a few scenes in the high school and friend gatherings that keep reminding me this is YA – which isn’t a bad thing since there’s something about school settings that still interests me with stories.

Most of the action is reserved for the last 20%, so some may lose some patience. There is a cliffhanger, but thankfully it’s not a jagged killer of one. While not action filled, it stills stays interesting but not much actually happens – the book seems to be one long set-up until the ending where it sorts of abruptly cuts off during their next step.

Maya is unique with her abilities and I’m not sure exactly everything she can do – but she explores some of her heritage and Native American origins in this one. I have a feeling she’s going to discover much more in the second book about tribes and her missing people. I don’t know all she can do yet but it’s clearly something with animals.

There is romance but it’s not overly angsty. It’s tied strongly into the storyline, of course, but the main love interest is likable and different enough to keep that okay. Her side friend with the abusive fathers throws in more realism. I can’t complain about any of the characters – we have some stereotypes, but in real life the teenagers usually have stereotypes in their group anyway – we don’t develop cliques in high school without a reason…

I like Maya’s bond with her adoptive parents and how well they understand her – not something often used in YA fiction – but I’m confused on the end and who or what are her birth parents. Again, have a feeling that information is left to discover in the sequel.

A lot of questions are raised and answered, but still some questions dangle waiting for the sequel to come out and fill the reader in. Will be the second when I get the chance.

I haven’t read the Darkest Powers trilogy, so this is pretty new to me since I am not familiar with that tie-in series.

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