Book Review: The Gathering

The Gathering (Darkness Rising #1)
Narrated By: Jennifer Ikeda
Format: Audiobook
Published By: Harper Audio
Publication Date: April 2011
Length: 8 hours, 8 minutes
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult

The Story & Writing:

Since I loved Bitten, the first book in Kelley Armstrong's adult series, Women of the Otherworld, I wanted to see if I would also enjoy her YA works. I decided to start with the Darkness Rising series because I was really intrigued by it. I went into this read knowing that it would have a Native American character and be supernatural in some way, but other than that it was a cold read for me. I had no expectations about plot, but I had a hunch that there would be strong female characters and engaging writing based on my previous experience with Armstrong's work. The Gathering once again proves that Armstrong is one of the best paranormal writers out there right now. There is something so compelling about her writing style; I can't seem to get enough of it.

I don't want to discuss plot in this review at all. The reason behind this choice is simple - this read was so much better for me since I had no idea of what to expect. Readers will enjoy trying to unravel the supernatural and mystical elements of this read for themselves. To give away too much about the plot would ruin the fun and suspense. I also love that even the summary on the book jacket leaves most of the plot a mystery. Just trust me when I saw this one is worth the read.

While I enjoyed this read, the beginning was extremely slow for me. Armstrong spends a lot of time building up the uniqueness of her setting, which lends a strong sense of place to this story. I love that it is set on Vancouver Island in the small medical research town of Salmon Creek. Salmon Creek is an interesting place to grow up as it only has about 200 residents. I thought my hometown was small! I can't imagine having such a small pool of kids to choose from for friends and dating. In future books I hope that we get more information about the research behind Salmon Creek's creation. It seems that things are not all positive in the tiny town. Also, due to the isolated locale, the wilderness and its inhabitants play a major role throughout this book. I would love to visit the island and see the scenery for myself after this read.

Another reason that the beginning dragged for me is it was basically just a way to introduce readers to the main character, Maya, and her life in Salmon Creek. All of the information is useful later on as you seek to piece together what's going on with Maya, but it felt tedious at the time. This is one of those books where I started to question Armstrong's motives, but by the end I began to appreciate her skills as a storyteller. She knows exactly what needs to be done to bring her characters to life. Patience will be rewarded.

Finally, I am always on the lookout for reads with strong Native American characters to recommend to my students. I have mentioned before that a significant number of my students are Native Americans and they really enjoy seeing characters with similar backgrounds appear in the books they read. I particularly like the fact that this one focuses on a female. Maya is a great role model for my students. Armstrong does a nice job of mixing Native legends into her story about a contemporary girl. I am curious to do some research on my own to learn more about the Navajo and Hopi legends.

The Audio:

The narrator of this one would rate about a 3.5 with me. She did a nice job of differentiating the character voices and I think she did a really beautiful job of bringing Maya to life. However, I can't say that she truly did anything special that sets this audiobook apart from others I have listened to recently. It wasn't an unpleasant experience listening to this book on cd, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to acquire the book in this format over the more traditional formats. However, I will probably listen to the rest of the series on audio because I did enjoy Jennifer's work and my traditional TBR list is overwhelming at the moment.

One Last Gripe: I want to know more about what happened to Serena. I didn't like that I was left hanging on this issue.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The Native American lore

First Sentence: Serena stood on the rock ledge twenty feet above the lake, singing in a voice known to bring tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it.

Favorite Character: Maya

Least Favorite Character: Sam

Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students—for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.

Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya's determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya's home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. 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.


  1. I love having main characters from diverse ethnic groups and Native American is among my favorite. The fact that book is so rooted in it makes it sound like a good read for me to start.

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  2. Oh I have this on my shelf but I'm waiting til the next one is about to come out - but I'm glad to see you loved it!

    Pabkins @ Mission to Read


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