Kelley Armstrong, Gathering

Posted August 30, 2011 by Kathy Davie in

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising, 1
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First in the Darkness Rising urban-fantasy series for young adults set, for this story, in a company town, Salmon Creek, on Vancouver Island. Upon first appearance, this series appears to run in conjunction with Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. At least in that it involves the cabals; the St. Cloud Cabal in particular.

The Story
The Gathering begins with an introduction to everyone in Maya’s life including the animals. The real start is her trip to Nanaimo with her parents where she gets the birthday surprise she’s been bugging them about for months. Except, she doesn’t get it. The artist’s great-aunt drives them off with insults. The final insult is calling Maya a witch, Yee naaldlooshii in Diné.

The next day Maya experiences her first vision and one of her patients is healing much too fast. Then she runs into Mina Lee, the reporter whom Maya rescued from Marv. Salmon Creek has a policy about strangers asking questions about the town, the lab. The kids string ’em along and tell the adults about them.

Rafe’s a bit of a player except that he only goes after the girls until they say “yes”; that’s when he walks away. This time however, he’s coming back at Maya. At her sweet sixteen party at Daniel’s with some very unexpected results.

Another run in with the artist’s great-aunt provides a better definition of yee naaldlooshii which, when reinforced by a sly message from the reporter, Mina Lee, really does a number on Maya’s nerves. Which get worse when they simply cannot find or get a response from Lee. Until Maya and Rafe discover why they aren’t getting a response. Things just get worse. An assault from Sam on Maya; Rafe and Annie take off for the unknown; and, a purpose-set forest fire with armed guards searching for Rafe and Maya. With all that Maya’s been learning from Rafe about her biological mother and the experimentations, the great-aunt, and then this attack…something’s not right…

The Characters
Maya Delaney is an adopted Native child with an interesting birthmark and an affinity for animals which she primarily expresses by caring for those animals found injured in the forest. The rest of the family is Mom, a Haida native, who is an organic architect who designs buildings to blend into the natural surroundings. Her Dad is the park warden for Salmon Creek. Fitz is a three-legged bobcat whom Maya rescued and Kenjii is her protective German shepherd.

Marv is a ragged-ear cougar who seems protective of Maya although he doesn’t seem to mind treeing tourists.

Daniel Bianchi is probably Maya’s best friend and she’d like to make him her boy friend but the timing still seems off. It hasn’t been that long since Serena drowned—his girlfriend and her best female friend. He’s pretty much the class leader, excels at sports, and has an affinity for identifying wrong people. After his mother ran off, his dad started to drink and Daniel sometimes needs a refuge, which he finds at Maya’s where the Delaneys keep a room for him.

Their friends include Nicole Tillson, the mayor’s daughter; Rafe Martinez who has recently moved to Salmon Creek with his sister, Annie, to live in their inherited cabin; Hayley Morris who does everything she can to hurt Maya; Hayley’s sister, Brooke; Travis and Corey Carling, the police chief’s sons; Samantha (Sam) Russo who seems to hate everyone); and, Brendan Hajek, the vet’s son.

Salmon Creek is populated by everyone necessary for the running of a town to enable a town full of employees to operate the drug-testing lab the St. Cloud Corporation has set up—less than 200 people. The school is the best possible including sports activities for all 68 students with a chef and cloth napkins, laptops replaced every two years with desks built to accommodate the laptops.

You may remember Dr. Davidoff from Darkest Powers…yup, he’s showing up here too.

My Take
This is too fascinating! The early mention of Davidoff had my wires hummin’. I didn’t make the connection of the St. Cloud Corporation with the St. Cloud Cabal until much later which is when the speed reading kind of took over. Salmon Creek was too perfect. It sounded like such an ideal place that there had to be a catch. With the information Rafe provides…hoo, boy. Then the trauma of the forest fire and its goons after Maya and Rafe has me wondering just who in town is safe. Who isn’t in on Maya’s true identity? Was Mina Lee really in town to find Maya? With the type of questions Lee was asking and the clue she left for Daniel and Maya… It’s got me worried for Maya, Daniel, Rafe, Annie, heck, all the kids. And are their parents in on this??

The Cover
The cover doesn’t feel right. It’s a profile of a girl with dark hair, painted lips wearing a drop earring of four gradated beads with a blue overcast. Maya just didn’t sound like a girly girl so it can’t be her. The title now could refer to a Gathering up either through “penning” people in Salmon Creek or during the evacuation.

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