Review: The Gathering

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong was released in the U.S. on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 in hardcover, eBook and audio formats. It is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy set in the same world as the Darkest Powers trilogy.

It is currently available online at Amazon in all formats and at Barnes & Noble in hardcover and eBook formats.

Published by HarperTeen, the print edition is 368 pages.

Goodreads description:

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.


The small town of Salmon Creek on Vancouver Island, Canada, with a population of 200, is nestled into the surrounding wilderness, hidden far enough away from civilization to discourage most outsiders. Summers bring in a few tourists looking to commune with nature, hike through the plentiful forests and observe the local wildlife.

In general, though, Salmon Creek is pretty isolated. Which is perfect for a company town built solely for medical research, and just how the St. Cloud Corporation wants it.

Although miles from the nearest town, the residents do not want for much. Their needs are met by the company. Its citizens are happy – even the seventy younger members of the community. And in a world where the young are generally in a state of unrest, this is pretty extraordinary. But signing a contract with the St. Cloud Corporation is a contract for life – hardly anyone is allowed out of their agreement.

While there are few secrets between the residents, there are many secrets about what goes on behind the closed doors at St. Cloud. Corporate espionage is always a risk for medical research companies and residents know to be on high alert for outsiders who ask questions and a plan is in place on just how to deal with them.

But when a stranger arrives who starts asking questions about the local high school students – their background, who their friends are and what activities they participate in – Maya begins to have questions of her own, like how it was possible for her best friend Serena, captain of the swim team, to drown, especially when it looked like she was being pulled under?

There is something definitely something going on in Salmon Creek and Maya wants answers.


The Gathering is a charming and seductive story that will pull readers right in with its easy flow and will leave them begging for the next installment. Questions and suspicions are raised right from the prologue and will continue to grow as the story progresses, leaving readers with only a hint of what may come.

Author Kelley Armstrong has created what appears on its surface to be a straightforward story, with everything right out in the open for the reader to find, but in actuality is one that is far more intricate, with many elements woven in that might not be discovered on first glance. And as this is a series, many of these discoveries will have to await the future books for everything to come together and become clear.

The main character, Maya, is strong, smart and self-assured. She knows what she likes – her friends, the animals she cares for, the outdoors – and is less than forgiving of those that have done her wrong.

So when bad boy Rafe sets his sights on her, Maya is quickly suspicious. But when he shows her a side of himself that he hasn’t revealed to anyone else, one that is honest, she breaks all of her rules about not falling for boys she goes to school with.

Maya’s friends warned her about Rafe, and even she knows the risk she’s taking by giving her heart to him, but she feels a connection with him that she hasn’t felt with anyone else. His being new to Salmon Creek might be a part of it, but her pull toward him is much stronger than the novelty of a mysterious outsider.

But he’s definitely been hiding something and what he reveals about himself and what he knows about her is more shocking than Maya would ever have guessed.

This new series by the author is fast-paced and riveting and is off to an exciting start. The Gathering gives readers insight into the characters and world as it develops the story that will carry into subsequent books in the series. A few perfectly placed elements are included that begin to link this series with the Darkest Power trilogy and which will eventually fully connect the two.

This is yet another fantastic series by author Kelley Armstrong and one that should not be missed. It can be enjoyed by readers of almost any age, as long as they don’t mind being teased along through a book or two until all answers are revealed.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong’s writing. I loved her Darkest Powers trilogy and I already love the Darkness Rising trilogy. One day I am going to sit down and read every single one of the books in her adult series. I’m not sure how soon that will be as there are a lot, but I will do it.

She just has such an easy, comfortable style to writing that draws me in and then after I’m settled she slowly starts piling on the questions and building up the tension until by the end my mind is racing trying to think of all the possible outcomes, what everything means and what exactly is going on with the characters I thought I knew so well throughout the story.

She did exactly that here and more. The prologue started me right off with so many questions. I then had to settle back in to wait as I was introduced to the characters, learned more about the world and piece-by-piece the puzzle started to get filled in. But in The Gathering it felt as if the more pieces I was given the bigger the puzzle turned out to be.

And so I wait. For what? The next book in this series which isn’t out for another year. Ah, the torment! Once again, Ms. Armstrong, you have left me with a head filled with questions and nowhere to look for answers. I just knew I should have stockpiled the books until all three were out, but I just don’t have that kind of willpower.

This was such a fun and fast read and it left me wanting oh so much more. And the more I think about it, the more “aha” moments I have. I can’t wait until book two.


The second book in the series is currently entitled The Calling and will be out in 2012.

To read an excerpt from the Darkest Powers website, click here.

To read an excerpt of the first nine chapters from HarperTeen, CLICK HERE.

Book trailer for The Gathering:

This review is based on an ARC I received through a trade although I did purchase the eBook on release date.

Note: This book was so fun and easy to read and yet this was probably the most tricky review I’ve had to write and one that took me the longest because I did not want to reveal any spoilers, comment on anything I discovered or mention any of the questions I had so that readers could find out everything for themselves.

And it seemed that every road I wanted to venture down ended up revealing something so I had to keep writing and re-writing and re-writing.

Also, much of this story sets up the series and so I was concerned about being misleading about what are actually the main points in this story and what is simply a build-up for books to come. In the end, I cut out more than half of what I planned to say, and decided to leave off my summary as it gave away too much.

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