Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
On the heels of the wildly popular "The Darkest Powers" series comes the first in another supernatural YA trilogy from New York Times bestelling author Kelley Armstrong.
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.
About the author
When librarians finally granted Kelley Armstrong an adult card, she made straight for the epic fantasy and horror shelves. She spent the rest of her childhood and teen years happily roaming fantastical and terrible worlds, and vowed that someday she'd write a story combining swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead. That story began with the New York Times bestselling Sea of Shadows and continues with Empire of Night.
Armstrong's first works for teens were the New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. She lives in rural Ontario with her husband, three children, and far too many pets.
Excerpt: The Gathering (by (author) Kelley Armstrong)
SERENA STOOD ON THE rock ledge twenty feet above the lake, singing in a voice known to bring tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it. Everyone except me. “For God’s sake, Seri,” I said, “just dive already.” Serena stuck out her tongue and shifted closer to the edge, toes wrapping around it. She bounced there, blond ponytail bobbing, cheeks puffing. Then she dove. It was, as usual, an effort worthy of the Olympics, and she sliced into the water so smoothly that barely a ripple pinged across the glassy surface.
She popped back up, sleek as a seal. “Your turn, Maya!” I flipped her the finger. She laughed and dove again. Serena was the swimmer—captain of the school team. It’s not my thing, really. This was the part I liked, just sitting on the rock ledge, bare feet dangling. I basked in the morning sun, drinking in the rich, late-summer air and the perfect view of the crystal-clear lake, the distant snow-capped mountains, the endless evergreens.
As Serena swam to the middle of the lake, I squinted over at the path, looking for a familiar blond head. Daniel was supposed to join us.
Daniel and I had been friends since I’d moved to Salmon Creek when I was five. Then, last year, there’d been a school dance where the girls were supposed to invite the guys, and Serena thought we should draw straws to see who asked Daniel. I liked him, but not the way Serena did, so I’d fixed the game so she’d win. They’d been together ever since.
As Serena swam back toward me, I stripped to my bra and panties, dropping my clothes into the bushes below.
“Ooh la la,” she called. “Check out the new undies. Did some amazing friend finally take pity and buy you grown-up stuff?”
“Yes, and she’d better be right about them not going seethrough when they get wet. Otherwise her boyfriend is going to see a lot more of me than she’d like.”
Serena laughed. “They’ll be fine. White’s your color. Shows off your tan.”
I shook my head at her and plaited my long black hair. I don’t have a tan. I’m Native. Navajo, maybe. I’d been adopted as a baby and my mother hadn’t been around to fill in any background forms.
I climbed farther up the rocks and stopped at one overhanging the lake.
As I balanced there, Serena called, “Hey, those low riders show off your birthmark. Did you ask your parents about getting that tattoo?”
My fingers dropped to the mark on my hip. It looked like a faded paw print, and I wanted to get it tattooed so it would show up better.
“Mom says maybe when I’m sixteen. Dad says when I’m sixty.”
“He’ll come around.” She flipped onto her back and floated. “He always does. You should do it for your sixteenth birthday next year. We’ll get your mom to take us over to Vancouver, make a weekend of it. I’ll get one, too. I want a nightingale, right over my boob, so when I get up on stage in my sexy dress, cut down to—”
She flailed suddenly. “Maya!”
She went under. Disappeared completely, like a hook had dragged her down.
I jumped into the water, and I hit it wrong. Pain smacked me so hard I gasped. Water filled my mouth and my nose. I swam out in a frantic dog paddle. I could see the rings where Serena had gone under. They seemed to get farther away with every clumsy stroke I took.
I treaded water, looking around. “Serena?”
“If this is a prank to get me in the lake, it worked,” I said, my voice quavering.
When she didn’t reply, I dove. As I went under, panic hit, like it always did—my gut telling me this was wrong, dangerous, get above the surface or I’d drown.
The normally clear lake was brown, churned up dirt swirling through it, and I couldn’t see.
I shot up from the water.
“Help!” I shouted. “Someone! Please!”
I dove again, blind and flailing, praying my hand or foot would brush Serena.
She’s been under too long.
No, she hadn’t. Serena could hold her breath forever. Last year, we’d timed her at a swim meet and she’d stayed under for five minutes before the coach ran over and made her stop. I couldn’t hold my breath even for a minute. I bobbed up again, gasping.
I followed the shout to the shore. The sun glinted off the wet rocks and I blinked. Then I glimpsed blond wavy hair and a flash of tanned skin as Daniel yanked off his shirt.
“It’s Serena,” I shouted. “She went und—”
My kicking leg caught on something. I tried to pull, but it tightened around my ankle. I went under, screaming. Water filled my mouth as it closed over my head.
I fought, kicking and twisting, trying to grab at whatever had me. My fingers brushed something soft, and my brain screamed “Serena!” I tried to grab her, but I was dragged deeper and deeper until my feet hit the bottom. Then, whatever was wrapped around my ankle fell away.
I pushed up through the murky water. But as soon as my feet left the lake bottom, I couldn’t tell where the surface was anymore. Everything was dark. My lungs burned. My head throbbed. I kept fighting my way up. Oh God, let it be up. Finally I broke through. I felt the sunlight and the slap of cool air, only to go back down again. I pushed up, but couldn’t stay afloat, couldn’t seem to remember how to tread water. My whole body ached. Staying above was such a struggle, it was almost a relief when the water closed over my head again, peaceful silence enveloping me.
I had to struggle not to give in, had to force my arms and legs to keep churning, get my head back above—
Arms grabbed me. They seemed to be pulling me under and I struggled against them.
“Maya!” Daniel shouted. “It’s me.”
I didn’t care. I needed him to let go of me, leave me be, let me breathe. He gripped me tighter, wrapping one strong arm around me as he swam.
I told Daniel to let me go, that I could make it to shore, just find Serena, please find Serena. He thought I was still panicking and kept hauling me along until, finally, he heaved me onto the rocks.
“Serena,” I gasped. “Get Serena.”
He hoisted himself up and scanned the shore and I realized he hadn’t understood. Oh God, he hadn’t heard me.
“Serena!” I yelled. “She went under. I was trying to find her.”
His eyes widened. He twisted and plunged into the lake. I huddled there on a rock, coughing, as he swam out. I watched him dive and come back up. Dive and come back up. Dive and come back up . . .
They dragged the lake that afternoon and found Serena’s body. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning. A healthy teenage girl, captain of the swim team, had drowned. No one knew how it happened. An undertow. A cramp. A freak panic attack. There were plenty of guesses but no answers.
Soon all that was left of Serena was a monument in the school yard. The town moved on. I didn’t. Something had happened in that lake, something I couldn’t explain. But I would. One day, I would.
Praise for The Darkest Powers trilogy:
"The suspense rarely lets up, and fans of Armstrong's adult Otherworld novels will enjoy the parallels between Chloe and her supernatural friends' adventures and those of their grown-up counterparts. Bring on the third novel."
— Quill & Quire (Starred Review)
"Terrifying ghosts, smatterings of gore and diverse teen voices will prompt young adults to pick up the next in this series.... Teen readers might scream loud enough to raise the dead."
— Kirkus (Starred Review)
The GatheringSeventeen-year-old Maya lives on Vancouver Island in a small medical-research town with fewer than 200 people, 68 of whom are students in her K-12 school. Lately, strange things have been happening in the town, and Maya is determined to get to the bottom of it. How did the captain of the swim team (her best friend) drown in a calm lake? Why are mountain lions appearing so close to their homes, and what connection does she have to the dangerous new bad boy Rafe?
Spun off from her bestselling Darkest Powers trilogy, the first book in this new series from Red Maple Award-nominated author Kelley Armstrong takes a very different approach than in her previous books.
Unlike The Summoning, this story takes a lot longer to build. Armstrong puts a lot of focus on setting up Maya’s background, but in most of the book, there is only a hint of anything supernatural. While Maya does take notice of some of the weird goings on, she isn’t immediately interested in investigating further. The elements of a really interesting story are there, but the slow pacing takes away from it. Rather than creating suspense, there is a feeling of waiting for something to happen and wondering when it will.
An aspect of the novel that does set it apart from other paranormal stories is the author’s incorporation of Aboriginal legend. Maya is adopted but learns that she is likely of Navajo background. Navajo culture is steeped in legend, and Armstrong skillfully weaves this into the story. Maya is also a competent and intelligent character and she’s easy to relate to and to like.
On the whole, the book is a solid read. There is an intriguing mystery developing, and while the novel is bottom heavy with action, readers will be rewarded for sticking with it and will be anxious for the second book.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2011. Volume 34 No. 3.
The Gathering (Darkness Rising)Maya’s never thought much about why she was adopted or the paw-print birthmark on her hip but starts to wonder when mountain lions start approaching her. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery surrounding her biological parents, and Maya begins to suspect that the tiny medical-research community she lives in has some well-hidden secrets. Book One in the series.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.
Other titles by Kelley Armstrong
The Final Trial
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 4
A Rip Through Time
The Deepest of Secrets
A Rockton Novel
A Stranger in Town
A Rockton Novel
Shapers of Worlds Volume II
Science fiction and fantasy by authors featured on the Aurora Award-winning podcast The Worldshapers
The Serpent's Fury
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 3
The Gryphon's Lair
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 2
Alone in the Wild
A Rockton Thriller (City of the Lost 5)