Monday, April 11, 2011

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong


Maya Delaney has always felt a close bond with nature. The woods around her home are a much-loved sanctuary – and the pawprint birthmark on her hip feels like a sign that she belongs.

But then strange and terrible things begin to happen in the tiny medical-research town of Salmon Creek (population: 200). The captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Mountain lions appear around Maya’s home, and won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts experiencing ‘bad vibes’ about certain people and things. One of those people is Rafe – the new bad boy in town. What is he hiding – and why is he suddenly so interested in Maya . . . ?

I'm a big fan of Kelley Armstrong having read a fair few of her Women of the Otherworld books plus the Darkest Powers series. I was excited to see that The Gathering is set in the same world as Darkest Powers as I love that idea of supernaturals going up against secret organisations. I like that clash of (super)natural phenomena versus science and order. In fact, I suppose that this represents why I love to read fantasy - it's pure escapism from the rigid order that can exist in everyday life.

Maya is adopted and thinks she may be a member of the Navajo tribe although she's not entirely sure as her mother dropped her off at a hospital when she was a baby and there's little information for her adoptive parents to go on. Maya lives in parkland on the outskirts of the minuscule town of Salmon Creek. She loves living in the woods and looks after a range of wounded animals that she finds. The action starts a year after the death of her best friend Serena in a swimming accident. Maya and Daniel (Serena's boyfriend) have always had questions about how a good swimmer could drown in a calm lake but have tried to put it behind them. Maya focusses on turning sixteen, having a tattoo and getting to know Rafe, the new boy at school.

However, a series of strange events force Maya and Daniel to start questioning everything around them. A journalist arrives and starts poking around, a complete stranger accuses Maya of being a witch, Maya starts having visions and even Daniel is changing. Alongside all this drama Maya finds herself falling for Rafe. I loved the completely believable way that Maya feels overcome by her emotions, scared of the strength of her feelings for Rafe. Daniel is a brilliant character too and his friendship with Maya is touching as the two of them struggle to move through their teens yet stay close. Written in the first person, Maya has a strong voice. She's grounded and at times hilarious - I loved the interaction between her and her adoptive parents.

This is what I love about Kelley Armstrong; you know you're in safe hands. She picks you up like a waif on the side of the road looking for a lift and promises you a journey. Whenever I open one of her books I know that I'm never going to question the motives of the main character, I'm not going to wonder what happened to the pace or get restless. What I do know is that she'll deliver me at the other end, somewhat ruffled and exhilarated wondering when I'm going to get my hands on the sequel. In between I know there'll be spot-on dialogue, feelings that I can identify with, spooky or downright bizarre happenings and some pure magic. If you've never tried one of Armstrong's books then do - start with The Gathering, or The Summoning, or Bitter, or .... just try one, please, just to shut me up.


B. Silver said...

In this sense i like SF, fantasy too, but without the admixture of gothic... If Kelley Armstrong is so good, as you write, i will look for her books. Best wishes :)

Jules said...

I just bought this at the weekend and I can't wait to get started on it.


serendipity_viv said...

Right! That one is going on the list. I have only read one other Kelley Armstrong books - The Awakening, but I did enjoy it.

Caroline said...

Fantastic review!
I have to admit I have never read any of Kelley Armstrong books (do not kill me!!) but I have a few home! I love how you summarise her talent, seems like I would love her too!

Lauryn said...

i love kelley armstrong i have read the darkest powers series about three times and if you like twilight you may not likke these books they are a have a better story line and more mature material