Monday, February 6, 2012

The Gathering (Darkness Rising #1)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My history with Kelley Armstrong is a long and solid one.
I've read all her books in the Underworld series and Elena and Clay are one of my (few) most beloved couples in UF.
I inhaled all the books where they are protagonists, they're definitely my favorite in the series.

When Armstrong started writing YA lit (The Darkest Powers series) I picked up The Summoning. I wasn't very impressed, so much so that I dropped the series.
This new series, Darkness Rising, is somewhat better than DP, but still hasn't left me very impressed so far.

The story is set in a tiny community somewhere on Vancouver Island, Canada. Salmon Creek is a small village whose residents work for a pharmaceutical company who does classified medical research. There's something definitely fishy going on in the community: from Serena's - Maya's best friend - death, to the appearance of an ever- increasing number of unknown cougars, to a series of weird events punctuating Maya's life.

There were some nice - and original - aspects to this story that I particularly appreciated.
The setting, for starters, is really nice. Descriptions of the community, the wilderness and the wildlife are really well done, atmospheric. There's always an animalistic taste to Armstrong's books when she deals with shapeshifters that I find extremely enticing.
Because after all, shapeshifters they are, in this book. Skin-walkers, to be precise, a race of supernaturals that I had yet to encounter in fantasy.

The mythology, tied to native Americans, is definitely a point which I found very interesting and that I would have wanted to - and that I hope will be - explored more in the next installments. What I didn't like was when said mythology got contaminated with a not-so-native regional Italian secret sect of hunters, the Benandanti, which had, in my opinion, very little to do with native Americans. There might be ignorance on my part on this subject but the sect is, incidentally, originally from the area where I live and I am pretty sure we have nothing in common with native American shapeshifters. Anyway.

The other problem I had was that some scenes between Maya and Rafe, especially the ones when they are in the woods, felt very much similar to some Elena and Clay's scenes, and if they're similar now... well, I don't want to be spoilery but I think they will end up being more and more similar to the other, fortunate series.

So basically, while I enjoyed the book (cliffhanger aside) I had the distinct feeling that this - or part of this - was just a YA version of a story that's already been successfully told.
I wish Kelley Armstrong had just stuck to adult urban fantasy because, to me, it definitely feels like she's trying to milk the YA cash cow by exploiting some trite paranormal YA tropes.


  1. I've seen Kelley's name on Goodreads and so many blogs but I am still yet to read anything by her and I didn't know she wrote adult and YA fiction.

    I enjoyed your review of Gathering but I'll try and start with her Underworld series seeing as how much you love it!


  2. I love Kelley Armstrong's books too, but I felt the same way about The Gathering! It was really cool & original, and I loved how she shined some light on Canada (because I'm a proud Canadian LOL!), but sometimes I felt like I wanted a little bit more from the book. Still, I really liked the animalistic taste to the book too -- and I loved the way you worded it in your review! :)

    Awesome honest review, Maja! <3 It's so cool that we have similar thoughts on this book! :) Hopefully the second book in the series will blow us both away more -- I'm super excited!

  3. I just love taking credit for Lisa's work. :D Nothing like it.

  4. Shame you didn't enjoy this more, Lisa. *whispers* I kind of loved it. (Don't hate me! :D) Nicely reviewed as always. I'm glad you were still able to enjoy SOME parts of it even though it wasn't all entirely impressive.

  5. Okay, getting myth wrong and adding unnecesary things to make the story better must be one of my pet peeves when it comes to not liking books so... I think I'll pass on this one. Thanks for the great review!

    Ron @ Stories of my life


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