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The Gathering Cover Picture

The Gathering

Kelley Armstrong

Published 2011               359 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

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.

The Review

The Gathering is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy by bestselling fantasy author Kelley Armstrong. Aimed at Young Adult readers, The Gathering is set in Armstrong’s Otherworld and is loosely related to the books in the author’s previous YA offering – the Darkest Powers trilogy. I say loosely related because while the premise is similar, a group of teens find out that they are the result of some genetic experiment to boost their latent magic powers, the story’s approach is vastly different to that of the Darkest Powers books.

Where the Darkest Powers books focuses on supernatural teens in peril, The Gathering focuses on Maya – a 16 year-old girl who doesn’t know that she’s supernatural, hasn’t a clue that her friends may also be paranormally inclined and spends most of the book satisfied with her wholesome home life. Frankly, there is little peril in this story.

As a long established Kelley Armstrong fan I love her writing, whether it’s her books for adults or those for teens, but I don’t feel that The Gathering is Armstrong’s best work. Here’s the thing. I think I expected The Gathering to be non-stop supernatural action with a strong mystery plotline (like most of the author’s previous books) but the story just isn’t that dynamic. It plods along nicely, setting up Maya’s background and developing her character, but it never seems to gain enough momentum to get out of second gear. The story is enjoyable but not brilliant – especially when compared to the author’s earlier novels.

Still, I’m the first person to complain when authors recycle their plotlines and characters for book, after book (not an uncommon problem in fantasy fiction where a series offering can run on for years) so while I’d have preferred to read something a little more action-driven I can appreciate that the author is trying not to write The Darkest Powers, Part II.

For The Gathering, Armstrong has introduced some completely new types of paranormals. These new magical powers are unknown to both established Otherworld fans and new readers, which helps to add some mystery to the story. Currently there are no vampires, necromancers or werewolves in The Gathering but since this book is set in the Otherworld these creatures could appear at a later date because they are part of the established mythology.

Ultimately, The Gathering is an enjoyable read. The pacing picks up a bit towards the finish of the story, rewarding the patient reader with plenty of danger and drama just before the end of the book. The Gathering may not be the author’s best work but it’s not a bad book either. It’s a bit average, but nicely so… And I mean that in a good way.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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