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July 1, 2011

Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)
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.
Holy cliffhanger, Batman! 

I'll get into spoiler-free detail about that later, though. Let's start at the beginning, shall we? To be honest, I nearly put this book down after the first chapter. The writing style was not appealing to me, and I just didn't connect with the characters. However, I'm so glad that I had nothing better to do earlier this afternoon, because boredom urged me to keep reading. And goodness, what a wild ride it was.

Maya Delaney, the female protagonist, lives in a small, medical research town with her adoptive family. Her true roots are unknown, but physically, she appears to be at least part Native American. She has always loved nature, and runs a small rehabilitation center for injured animals in a shed by her house. Maya has unbelievable healing abilities when it comes to nursing these creatures back to health. Interestingly enough, she also has a birthmark in the shape and design of a pawprint on her hip.

And then there's Rafe. Rafe, Rafe, Rafe...where do I begin? He's your average bad boy, one of those who enjoys cat-and-mouse chases with girls. At first, Maya is disgusted by his antics, but soon enough, she is drawn to him as he begins to share the truth of his past with her. Maya discovers that his troubles are bigger than she previously believed, and she becomes involved in a situation beyond imagination.

It's really tough to explain this book without spoiling it -- you just have to read it. The ending was the reason for my not quite perfect rating; it was a bit abrupt and not conclusive at all. I know this is probably because it's the first in a series, but I would've liked a little more closure.

That being said, it is still a brilliant story. If anything, the end of the novel made me all the more excited for book two, The Calling. I definitely recommend it for paranormal romance lovers, as well as the sci-fi crowd. There's something for just about everyone in The Gathering.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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