“I want you to have big dreams, big goals. I want you to strive to achieve them. But I don’t want to see you beating yourself up every time you make a mistake.”
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn’t know much about her background – the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip – but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island. Until now.
Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town – from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend’s hidden talent for “feeling” out people and situations, to the 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.
Title: The Gathering
Series: Darkness Rising, Book One
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published on April 12th 2011 by Harper
Format: Hardcover, 359 pages
It’s been an OFF year for me, reading wise — and gosh knows what else ha-ha! It’s honestly been a struggle to have the patience to sit and read, even though I enjoy most of the books I pick once I get settled. Honestly, the best way for me to get out of a reading slump is to re-read. I LOVE Kelley Armstrong so much and I haven’t read this trilogy in a while, so I thought it was a good time to pick it up once again!
One thing I can’t express enough is Armstrong’s amazing ability to control that slow build up in a story, making readers not only want but NEED to reach the end of the novel. She’s honestly a master controlling the intensity of a novel and knowing just how much to reveal at a given point. Some found the pacing of the “secrets” to be a little slow, but I actually enjoyed this part — it allows for more time to get to know the characters and the background of the novel.
Another grand thing? THERE’S LOTS OF DIVERSITY! Different ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations are exhibited in the novel, but with a tone of normalcy. It’s not a “big deal” that someone is Indigenous or likes someone of the same sex — it’s just a matter-of-fact. It makes the whole story more believable and relatable than the novels that are overly white-washed. And the characters … GOSH, they’re simply astounding!
Armstrong’s known for the sticking to the stereotypes but also pushing the limits. Maya, our heroine, is definitely one of my favourite characters. She’s independent, a natural leader, confident but not cocky, stubborn and doesn’t let anyone control her. It was great to see a female fill this role. The characters in general are just as fascinating, whether they are likable or not. You feel as though you know them personally, each with their own bit of character development and story to tell.
I think one of my favourite elements though is the setting. Armstrong captures the essence of that rural British Columbia life so well, making me envious of the characters. The detail to the forestry and the animal life really proved just how well Armstrong researched everything before publishing her novel.
As much as I love the SLOW BURN of the plot, it did make me impatient at some points. I just wanted to know more a little faster, which made the mundane teenage fun portions of the novel not as exciting. Though I will say, they are still funny moments.
I also wished the characters who discovered some of the secrets had more of a SHOCK factor. It’s as though the supernatural elements didn’t really faze them as much as I would’ve expected, especially since the supernaturals in the world the story is set in aren’t really out in the open.
Re-reading Armstrong’s The Gathering was honestly a treat — I had forgotten how much I love her writing style and sense of adventure. Her knack for carefully crafting an intense and intriguing plot while balancing this with beautifully developed characters draws you in so fast, you don’t even realize how much you’ve read in one sitting. As much as I would’ve liked some more suspense, I’m also glad she decided to leave this for further on in the series, as it allows for more time to get to know the characters.
I recommend this novel if you enjoy: slow and intense plot development; a diverse cast of characters; urban fantasy; mystery elements; strong female leads.
Have you read Kelley Armstrong’s The Gathering? Have you read any of her other books? What were your thoughts on this novel or her other novels?