The Gathering Review
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Lately, I’ve had a hard time finding paranormal young adult reads without belligerent and disrespectful teens that end up totally spoiling a good story. So I picked up The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong with great trepidation—but I fell totally and completely in love with this new Darkness Rising trilogy.

Sixteen-year-old Maya Delaney doesn’t know much about her birth parents, and she never really thought much about it. As far as she’s concerned, the people who adopted her are the best parents a kid could have. A strange birthmark in the shape of a cat’s paw is the only reason for snooping into her origins, which unveil a few shocking secrets.

When mountain lions start seeking Maya out and several unexplained deaths happen, Maya decides that she needs to delve into her past and come up with some answers. She enlists the help of her long-time friend, Daniel, but things get complicated when a strange new boy shows interest in her. Though her attraction to him scares her, he makes her feel different, and she can’t resist him.

As part of a medical research community on Vancouver Island, Maya and her friends are taught not to talk to strangers about what goes on in the facility. When an outsider starts asking questions, Maya and Daniel give her a wide berth until they realize that she may have some of the answers they seek regarding Maya’s bloodline.

It’s refreshing to come across teen characters that show their parents some respect. Maya is one such character, winning my approval right from the start. She also has a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor that had me laughing out loud more than once. She’s kind but tough, and she reaches out to help whenever the need arises.

In addition to the lighter moments in The Gathering, though, a darker mood hovers on the outer edges of this paranormal suspense. In a few of the chilling scenes, the hair rose on my arms as uneasiness settled in my bones. Ms. Armstrong reveals bits of a sinister plot one piece at a time, keeping you hooked and in a constant state of anticipation.

The paranormal aspects are subtle, but they’re definitely there—and they add even more suspense to an attention-grabbing plot. The mystery builds gradually, one suspenseful piece at a time, until you’re certain that something out of the ordinary is going on in the small medical community. Then it ends with a major cliff-hanger, leaving you in agony as you wait for the second book in the trilogy.

The Gathering is the best young adult/teen novel I’ve read this year—and I look forward to reading more from this author.

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