by Kelley Armstrong
Darkness Rising series; book I
I am a huge fan of the Darkest Powers trilogy, and finding out Armstrong was coming out with a series set in the same world, I knew it was one I couldn’t miss.
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.
My Expectations: not too high, I was slightly worried it would feel like a second-rate spin-off
Delivery: Ooh impressed me! In fact, it never felt as though it was leaning on the success of Darkest Powers, it could definitely stand its own ground.
Put-down-ability: despite a slow start, things picked up, 4/10
With an abrupt, surprising ending, you’ve gotta be wondering… is the journey worth it? My answer? Yes! The Gathering is the first in a new series by Kelley Armstrong, based in the same world as her Darkest Powers trilogy (which is awesome) with a couple overlapping characters. It has the first-in-a-series syndrome, which means there was a lot of backstory and character development. But don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean there isn’t action—there is! It was a great blend of the two, albeit I wished more for the latter.
It took me about 80 pages to get hooked, I was personally drawn in when Rafe, the mysterious bad boy was introduced* but it was a relief for me because I was initially bored with this novel. There were just too many introductions, history, etc, in the beginning. However, from then on, I was sucked in and the rest of the novel just flew by. The only thing I didn’t like was the Daniel-Maya-Rafe thing going on… it’s pretty clichéd so I wasn’t completely convinced the sparks. Or maybe just because I liked Daniel more =)
The plot itself was great, and I think Armstrong really enhanced the blanket of secrecy and mystery by using such a secluded setting like Salmon Creek. I was constantly wondering what was really going on, although the ‘medical research’ was dimmed in comparison to finding the truth behind Maya’s pawprint birthmark and Serena's death. I kind of wish this wasn’t the case because I’m a ‘grand scheme of things’ kind of person, but alas, it’s very necessary.
Maya’s character is very likable and I never found times when I wanted to smack her, unless it came to Daniel… but that’s a story for another day. Like Chloe from Darkest Powers, she’s definitely a strong-willed, brave heroine who will definitely grow into her awesome-ness in later books… which I can’t wait for! Oh, and I can’t forget, this novel is set in the gorgeous Vancouver Island, which I loved because Armstrong included lots of Canadian-esque tidbits that I recognized… Nanaimo bars!!
The Gathering is a great set-up novel for what I can predict will be a fantastic series. Likable characters, distinct settings, and intriguing mysteries are all introduced in this instalment, and with a cliffhanger ending, readers won’t be able to get enough.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: heavily rec for fans of Armstrong’s other works, Paranormal YA fans
Acknowledgements: none in ARC
8.5/10 – because I thought it was very enjoyable despite a few flaws. At a romance angle, it will definitely appeal to the masses although it didn’t particularly work for me, but at a plot angle it shined. It didn’t move too slowly and as Maya searched for clues and answers, I was dying to know what was going on as well. It’s easy to be emotionally invested in this novel, which I believe is a great compliment. With characters I can easily care for, there’s no doubt I will be sticking around for the rest of the books. And I really want to know what happens next!!!
*I didn’t think I’d be saying that either, hehe
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