The Gathering (Darkness Rising) by Kelley Armstrong
Release Date: April 12th, 2011
Review copy courtesy of HarperTeen
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’m a huge Kelley Armstrong fan, and I love her Otherworld series, so I was curious to see how her new YA series would be! The novel begins a prologue in which Maya’s best friend, Serena, dies in a mysterious drowning in the local lake. An accident is one thing, but Serena is an accomplished swimmer, and when Maya jumps in to save her, she feels something trying to pull her under as well. We pick up again a year later, with Maya still trying to get over Serena’s death, and also help her other best friend (and Serena’s ex-boyfriend), Daniel, cope with it as well. Soon strange things begin happening in her tiny town, and questions of Maya’s birth begin to surface. Then there’s the sexy new guy, Rafe, who may be more than he seems…
The Gathering took a while to build up, which is fine, since it’s the first in a series, and I always appreciate a good back story so that I don’t feel out of the loop as the novel, and the action, progresses. The small town that Maya lives in, Salmon Creek, is a town owned by a wealthy family, the St. Clouds. The people that live there work in the drug research facility and their families are provided with housing and schooling. This added an element of mystery to the story, because you’re never quite sure if the research is completely legitimate. Maya is adopted, and the only thing she knows about her birth mother is that she is of Native descent. She has a special affinity for animals, and her Dad is a park ranger, so she also helps rehab and release injured wildlife. The story is told from Maya’s point of view, and she’s a suitably strong and sarcastic heroine, vulnerable at times, but also intelligent and more than capable of thinking on her feet. Most of the novel is spent unraveling the mystery of Maya’s origins, but the author has added enough action to move the story along nicely. Her best friend Daniel, who’s very protective of Maya, seems to have abilities of his own, and Rafe is one of the more intriguing teen love interests to come along in a while. Teens, and adults (especially fans of the Otherworld series) will find much to love here. There’s plenty of material to cover in future novels and after finishing The Gathering, you’ll want to go back to Salmon Creek for more! I know I do!
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