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Words like unnatural and impure started the whispers.
From the very beginning, Ivy Blackwood was different. She was only a child when she was accused of setting the fire, one she passively watched engulf the small house she had called home. Her fingertips burned and her hair singed. Some who watched her crossed themselves, convinced she was soulless for she showed no emotion at all. Calm and dispassionate, even when the screaming started that quickly turned to bellows of agony before dying into nothing but the roaring of the fire.
She was locked away where she couldn’t bring harm to herself or others. To all involved, they had protected the world from a monster, but sometimes things are not what they seem.
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I’m a lover of words; partly, because I’m a high school English teacher, but mostly, because I find writers’ ability to fluidly string words together in a way that clearly illustrates the ‘voices in their head’ and illicits a response from their audience to be a compelling tool for offering insights, teaching lessons, or just simply entertaining readers.
There’s a sense of power in words, both the oral and written ones, and while they can serve as weapons, the ones that consume me…that awaken my imagination…that lure me in and hold reign over me until the final word is read are the ones that empower me to continue to teach my students how to use them correctly, making them so much more than simply a means to communicate.
In my almost 41 years, I’ve read A LOT of books; you don’t become an English teacher with a Masters in English without being introduced to an expansive library of texts, but up until about 5 or 6 years ago, I had never ventured into the romance world because I thought I knew what good writing was…what literary storytelling was, but I can wholeheartedly say that I was just being a pretentious snob, and that revelation changed my entire view on what constitutes a piece of literature, and what I’ve learned since becoming a member of the romance community is that the craft of writing cannot be singularly defined, and it’s through my need for escapism and my need to experience stories that speak to my heart and to my soul that my role in the book world has grown, offering me the opportunity to Beta read and also proofread as well as granting me a look inside the makings of a story, of its characters, and of its lessons, and I’ll forever be grateful for it because one of the many authors it allowed me to form a bond with is L.A. Fiore, and it’s her newest release, The Gathering, that made be fall in love with lyrical words, multifaceted characters, and a setting that offers up a world of possibilities.
I can’t begin to concretely explain just how epic Ivy and Bain’s story is, but I’ll try because it’s a book that deserves to be praised. The Gathering is a love story of epic proportions…not just between a man and a woman or otherworldly beings but it illustrates the love of life…of the choice of how to live and what to live for, and as difficult as it is to keep the world balanced with both good and evil and the sacrifices that have to be made to do so, there’s a hope that in the face of adversity, selflessness will light the way and allow a fresh start…a new beginning of sorts, for all those involved. An despite the loss, there’s a hopeful lesson at the end and a challenge to humanity to keep one another in check but not by intolerance and anger but by realizing the bigger picture and choosing to bring light instead of dark to the forefront.
Even though there are a plethora of characters and plot lines, it’s easy to understand how everyone and everything fits together in the big picture because as the story progresses, the author guides her readers to realize exactly how all of the characters are connected and just what’s at stake, not only for New Orleans and the main people involved, but also for the world at large. Readers learn so much about mankind’s strengths and weaknesses through the events of The Gathering, and in some ways, those characteristics are embodied by the supernatural beings involved, clearly illustrating a commonality between other worldly creatures and human beings. All of mankind as well as other worldly beings are flawed and all have the ability to choose right or wrong, and what becomes quite obvious as those decisions are made is that those two paths are not exactly opposite; they actually run next to each other, allowing some to veer in one and then the other until a final decision has to be made…one that there may not be any turning back from.
Every character that L.A. Fiore crafted for Ivy and Bain’s story, regardless of how big or small their impact is, plays a significant role for the resolution of the book, so it’s important to understand all the players involved, where they stand, and the effect they have, not only on the pivotal events throughout the story line, but also in the grand scheme of things. ‘Seeing is believing’ is an important idea, not only for those individuals refuse to acknowledge that which is unknown, but also for readers as they traverse through the story and are exposed to the supernatural beings and events that transform New Orleans and have the potential to destroy the world.
Ivy and Bain’s love transcends time and space, and as their past comes full circle into their present, readers see what they both sacrificed and endured for their powerful connection. It’s quite interesting to see the contrast between Bain and Ivy…her innocence and in some ways timidity to his brashness and girth for lack of a better word. It’s exciting to explore the 21st Century through Ivy’s eye, knowing she doesn’t quite understand but the fact that she loves all the chaos adds to her awe. There’s pureness in Ivy and Bain’s bond and as their memories are explained and truths revealed, it’s clear just who they are to each other and why nothing can break what was created so long ago.
The Gathering is a powerful story filled with multifaceted characters, a setting that is both spellbinding and horrifying, and a plot rich in tumultuously evil actions as well as emphatically good moments and like all happy endings…good defeats evil…perhaps not in the way once thought but in a way that tips the scales maybe just a little bit in good’s favor.
The world and characters L.A. Fiore created in Ivy and Bain’s story are ones that I won’t soon forget, and the fact that Jareth’s story is up next has me anxiously waiting to reunite with the members of Ivy and Bain’s extended family, hoping that the momentum gained in The Gathering will continue to hold true as the series continues.
5+ Poison Apples Review
LA Fiore is a hybrid author of thirteen novels. She believes in a happily ever after, but she likes to make her readers work for it. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found in the garden or hanging on the deck with her family and friends. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids and their four fur babies.
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