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The Gathering

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When fifteen-year-old Nathanial moves to a sinister town that has been bruised by an ancient evil, he finds himself one of those Chosen to fight the cycle of darkness.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1993

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About the author

Isobelle Carmody

82 books1,636 followers
Isobelle Carmody began the first novel of her highly acclaimed Obernewtyn Chronicles while she was still in high school. The series has established her at the forefront of fantasy writing in Australia.

In addition to her young-adult novels, such as the Obernewtyn Chronicles and Alyzon Whitestarr, Isobelle's published works include several middle-grade fantasies. Her still-unfinished Gateway Trilogy has been favorably compared to The Wizard of Oz and the Chronicles of Narnia. The Little Fur quartet is an eco-fantasy starring a half-elf, half-troll heroine and is fully illustrated by the author herself.

Isobelle's most recent picture book, Magic Night, is a collaboration with illustrator Declan Lee. Originally published in Australia as The Wrong Thing, the book features an ordinary housecat who stumbles upon something otherworldly. Across all her writing, Isobelle shows a talent for balancing the mundane and the fantastic.

Isobelle was the guest of honor at the 2007 Australian National Science Fiction Convention. She has received numerous honors for her writing, including multiple Aurealis Awards and Children's Book Council of Australia Awards.

She currently divides her time between her home on the Great Ocean Road in Australia and her travels abroad with her partner and daughter.

Librarian's note: Penguin Australia is publishing the Obernewtyn Chronicles in six books, and The Stone Key is book five. In the United States and Canada this series is published by Random House in eight books; this Penguin Australia book is split into two parts and published as Wavesong (Book Five) and The Stone Key (Book Six).

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5 stars
445 (23%)
4 stars
616 (31%)
3 stars
564 (29%)
2 stars
185 (9%)
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117 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 100 reviews
Profile Image for Emmajayne.
11 reviews
October 22, 2014

That's all I can say about this book.


I'll make it quite clear I did not choose to read this book. My school did.
To me, Isobelle Carmody's 'The Gathering' was like that episode of NCIS that insipired a double murder. Literally, that bad.
All I can say is there was only one character I liked in this novel, he had four legs and a tail. And he died.

R.I.P. the Tod.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Newton.
Author 4 books15 followers
September 12, 2015
The Gathering is the first book by Isobelle Carmody that I have read. I read it because I was teaching a year 11 English class who were studying it at the time. I had to finish it quickly so that I could be of assistance to the students in their analysis tasks and as it is a full length, small-text novel, I thought this would be a struggle. But it wasn’t! I found it a real page turning book. Not only because of the nice short chapters, but also because of the way Carmody writes. There are some lines in there that I just ache over because I find myself wishing I had written that. I’m talking in terms of metaphors, mood and imagery. She really knows how to get you to see or smell or hear something vividly. The plot has been threaded together very well and the course of events is very interesting, opening up new mysteries for the reader in just about every chapter. There is a whisper of mysteries yet unanswered by the end and I’m not sure whether this is unsatisfying or just brilliant. I would now like to read more of Isobelle Carmody’s novels. Yet another author for me, as a new author, to learn from.
Profile Image for Nicky (burialshroud).
193 reviews15 followers
July 3, 2011
I took this book on holiday with me one year (possibly 1996). As you can probably appreciate I could only take a limited number of books away with me, so it was especially galling when this one turned out to be completely shit. I could've packed two Sweet Valley High books for the suitcase room taken up by this thing.
12 reviews1 follower
May 26, 2016
This book. There was something about that other books didn't have. It was strange very strange, I guess that was the something about it. I absolutely adore the character development and all their flaws. It made them relatable. I also really love the end of the book where Nate almost gave into the Kraken, but bounded back to save Seth and do the healing. In tat moment when he said,"Nissa, we're the Chain," that moment you could just tell he had won. That was the moment when the darkness started to lose. I also loved how he had those dreams about the previous Chain. Those dreams were what ultimately lead to his victory.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
13 reviews
May 26, 2016
A lot of people say they don't like this book but personally I thought it was a pretty good book because that all these things happened and it kept keeping me thinking the whole time. It was really sad at the end when the Tod was burned to death it made me hate the Buddha. I think the author put Tod as a guardian of Nathaniel but also the thing that would make him truly want to fight the Kraken.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jill Smith.
Author 5 books49 followers
May 9, 2012
Natanial has moved yet again with his mother to a new town. Only this time he has a feeling of dread as they draw closer to Chestnut. It is a model town with crime almost eliminated from its streets but there is a sinister undercurrent in the town. The school Three North, looks like a concentration camp. The building is cold and the stench from the nearby slaughterhouse almost unbearable, although none of his fellow students or teachers seems to notice. Three North hides a terrible past where a teacher is burned to death and the Library destroyed. Natanial decides to investigate this strange event as part of a history project. His mother has taken a job at the nearby towns nursing home and is always busy leaving him to fend for himself.

Nathanial likes comic books and his dog The Tod. Strangely three nights in a row he finds himself taking The Tod for a walk to the schoolyard, even though he finds on the first night he has broken ‘curfew’ by being out in the evening. They are drawn into a group fighting a terrible evil that pervades the town and is growing stronger. His group of teenage friends find themselves opposing a supernatural enemy who resides in the body Mr Karle the School Principal.

The book is divided into segments as the chapters relate to the events that occur in Natanial’s life. One – The Choosing, Two – The Gathering, Three – The Forging and Four – The Binding, all revolve around the group chosen by Lallie a gaunt fragile girl who uttered their instructions as to how to fight the enemy. Nissa her friend that lived in the attic of the school library, Danny the school bully, Indian a big lad who rebelled against the school system and Seth Paul who was the local Police Chiefs son.

The evil is palpable sending shivers up your spine as you turn the pages wondering what could happen next. This group of teenagers seem to have to fight a darkness that threatens to take over Chestnut then the surrounding towns. Natanial finds himself the eye of the group seeing how they can overcome the evil and triumph. The conclusion is very satisfactory as he also learns the reason his mother has moved from town to town since his fathers death and begins to understand the trauma of a life in constant fear, and be able to help recover from it.

The Gathering is a joint winner of ‘The Children’s Book Council of Australia’ 1994 Book of the Year Award winner for older readers as well as joint winner of the thirtieth Children’s Peace Literature Prize in 1993.

Profile Image for Lauren.
239 reviews41 followers
November 3, 2011
Such a disappointment. Nathaniel is an annoying character. He's supposedly smart but he misses really obvious stuff. And the concept is stupid, slow moving and boring. It's like an idea for a short story that has been forcibly lengthened into a book.
And the most annoying thing about it was that because it's Isobelle Carmody and I know she's so clever it made me hang on all the way to the end. Waste. Of. Time.
Maybe... I would have enjoyed it more if I was a teenager, but I wouldn't really want a teenager reading it anyway. It tackles massive issues such as evil without ever really dealing with them. It kind of plays with horrible depressing themes for entertainment.
Really didn't like this one.
Profile Image for Dar.
25 reviews1 follower
May 12, 2009
I remember reading this book back in High School so many years ago & really loving it. Don't most of us feel like the 'outsider' in High School? I think alot of teens could relate to it.
After seeing it pop up again on a friend's list I think I'll give it a re-read! I really like Isobelle Carmody's writing style, but have not thought to read any of her books since school, I think it's time to track some down.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
417 reviews10 followers
October 22, 2009
The idea of being an outsider in school has been done to death and done more skillfully than in this book. The idea of school being evil and some kind of gateway to hell has also been done and done better than in this book. The characters are all awkward young adults with a few twists to their personalities thrown in in order to create some facade of character depth. Not a fan.
2 reviews3 followers
October 16, 2017
PSA: Do not read this book. Never. Ever.

Burn this book like The Tod was burnt
Profile Image for Jessica Martin.
48 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2019
Adored even the most graphic of heart wrenching moments. A special place in my heart is formed for this masterpiece. I will forever cherish reading it in my youth and what it brought to me. A favourite, brilliant author of mine who spun gold between the pages.
April 8, 2019
I read The Gathering by Isobelle Carmody. Its about a kid Nathan, who transfers to a new school in a new town. When he gets there everything seems perfect and nothing out of place. He meets a kid who is big and hairy, they call him Bear. When he was walking his dog one night when he noticed bear and his friend danny breaking into the school, there he meets a new group of friends who all bring some sort of supernatural object. Nathan quickly learns that he also needs to find his object. His principal is very strict and stern. He claims to have cleaned Chestnut up. After Nathan find out his principal is not what he seems to be, he and his friends use all their objects to come together and defeat their principal. This book was awful. Belated climax, wouldn't say there was much of one. Not very interesting after the first 3 chapters.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,065 reviews14 followers
March 3, 2020
This book is not currently available as an ebook, and is not in print, but I found an audio version in the library and listened to it whilst driving on a work trip. It is a pity that the text copy would be hard to come by as it is a very good book that reminded me in parts of "The Chocolate War" but also had a supernatural or "magical realism" element too that reminded me strongly of David Almond.

Cheshunt is, depending on how you look at it, a model low crime neighbourhood, or a fascist one complete with night time curfews. As soon as Nathaniel moves there with his mother it is clear that he is wavering towards the second point of view. It does not help that his mother has moved the two of them so frequently that he is heartily sick of his rootless existence. It is perhaps relevant that his estranged father has recently died. The town itself smells of death because of the abattoir located there.

Things turn sour in school quickly when Nathaniel challenges a science teacher's love of ants and the way they all do what they are told. It is apparent that individualism is not cherished here, and his headmaster talks to him about it and then issues a detention when Nathaniel refuses to join the school youth club, "The Gathering".

Daniel is not the only one who resists the drive for conformity, however, and it turns out that a group of students have coalesced around an unusual leader who sees them as a magical circle of chosen ones, each of whom must find their totem. The totems are ordinary objects that take on a supernatural significance, and here there is a clever walk by the author along a tightrope between imaginative games and something that is actually a little supernatural.

Behind everything there is a rising evil and a hidden past to Cheshunt and Nathaniel is to discover and confront both the history of the place but also of himself too.

This was a well written book for young adults, and deserves to be more widely known. It is set in Australia by an Australian author, but it could just as easily be America, or (sans mention of a hurricane) many other countries. definitely worth a read if you can find it, but unless your library has it, second hand or audiobooks may be the only way to go with this
Profile Image for Renee.
211 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2013
I want to like Isobelle Carmody, I do. I've read quite a few of her books. I and loved Obernywton. But then not the rest of the series so much. So I read this book, thinking it was a fairly short stand alone novel. But I still didn't like it that much. I mean it was OKAY, but not great or even good. And I'm a bit disappointed.
I found the story very disjointed, as if things needed to be explained more, or there needed to be more background story. The thing with fantasy is to make a story believable, even though its fantasy. And I just didn't feel it. I'm sorry, I really really wanted to like it. Just the whole concept of the chain, the evil darkness and the objects of good or whatever, it was all very meh.
Profile Image for Deb.
119 reviews2 followers
June 8, 2016
This is the first book by Isobelle Carmody that I have read.

And I was not impressed.

I found the characters irritating, the story line too far strung out and much too dark for a young audience.

The darkness of the story was probably my biggest issue with The Gathering considering it's intended audience. There was a particular scene which was far too graphic and unnecessary, those of you who have read it will know to which one I am referring.

As a librarian I like to read wide and varied and books for all ages and audiences, but in my opinion, this one is definitely not one that I will be recommending to my young readers.

I will try another Isobelle Carmody book though - perhaps I just started with the exception. Every author has one!
Profile Image for Sarah Thornton.
568 reviews7 followers
August 26, 2019
Too hard to put down, and a long book for a single read!
Compelling, with multi-dimensional characters and the injustices and indignities of the real world juxtaposed against the fantasy world Carmody wrought.
I took some painkillers before reading this book (and subsequently am still feeling them now, as I write this review) and the second sentence had me shook. I was hooked. I could go my whole life waiting for something to surprise me as pleasantly as that moment.
I'll be reading more of her books, but I will be checking carefully that they are standalones as I've heard some of her series's are unfinished and I need closure.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
23 reviews
December 31, 2013
Such an enthralling read, one of those books you don't want to put down. I was worried because I just couldn't get into Obernewtyn at all, but this book was much better written and had more engaging characters in my opinion. I especially love that it read a bit like a mystery. The pieces would fall into place around the time I figured it out for myself.

I thought the ending went by a bit too quickly, but it didn't really matter because what needed to be said already had been. Overall, a great, eerie read :)
Profile Image for Tulsi.
101 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2008
An incredibly dark tale about young adults in, I'm assuming, and Australian town. It verges on the supernatural, and to me at least, seem to talk about personal strength and individual power against the majority. Multi-layered and complex, this is a story for a very mature teenager.

I read this as a kid, and was spell bound.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 24 books39 followers
November 26, 2010
This was a very good mid grade novel, filled with suspense, interesting and well-rounded characters, and a classic light-vs-dark plot. I was surprised by the violent demise of one of the main characters, but I have not read enough books in this genre to know whether this would be the norm/shocking to young readers.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
6 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2020
All i can say is wow. Maybe one of the best reads this year. All of the characyers with the exeption of a few, were amazing and likeable, they felt like there own people. Whilw the villan could have been a little better, i still loved the high stakes. The book shocked me at many times, and was not afraid to tackle heavy issues. The relataionships between the characters was interesting and real.
Profile Image for Indi.
11 reviews
September 23, 2010
This book is one of my personal favourites. It is so captivating, scary and epic that I could not put it down. Don't worry, the cover does not do it justice. Isobelle Carmody is a genius and this book is one of her best.
Profile Image for Trinity.
37 reviews7 followers
January 28, 2017
This was the worst thing I've read. Yes, I read it for school ages ago and it's horribleness scarred me for life. It was all rushed and confusing. I don't have much to say except
Profile Image for Rachel.
18 reviews
October 5, 2013
The most disturbing (unnecessarily so), morbid, weirdly written and strange book I have ever been forced to read for school.
Profile Image for Sam.
89 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2018
I've reread this book as an adult, having first discovered it as a pre-teen. It's lost none of its charm; while it is clearly targeted at the young adult audience, the treatment of good and evil in this book is both simple and complex.

For example, while the book culminates in five teenagers facing down a faceless 'evil' mob, the characters are dealing with very adult fears and experiences. One lives with the guilt of feeling responsible for a sibling's serious head injury, another three with being abused by figures of authority (albeit each in a different way) and the last struggles with alcohol abuse despite living the 'perfect' life. Furthermore, it's interesting to contrast Nathaniel's thought that "adults don't believe in evil" as he looks at his mother who has spent much of their lives running and hiding from Nathaniel's abusive father. This didn't strike me as odd as a child, but as an adult, I have to think that she believes evil exists as much as he does; she doesn't want to see it (a very different prospect).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Heather W.
837 reviews12 followers
June 17, 2020
After a strong start the novel loses its way when taking the reader through the mystery. There is no real explanation as to what is going on and how it has happened (even in the villainous monologues). This is a shame as the writer can create some atmospheric moments that are creepy but is unable to maintain them throughout. I would also say that there is a heartbreakingly hard scene to read towards the end of the book that added nothing and was completely unnecessary. The twists are easy to spot and this makes it a fairly easy book to follow. The ending may give some closure however there is a definite case of "sequel teasing" at the end which is annoying (although I am intrigued enough to pick up said sequel to see if explanations to the many questions I have are provided, heck a prequel would be interesting!!)

The audiobook narrator for this however is absolutely perfect and made it even easier to listen to this book. I would say if you wanted to read an easy to follow book that has some tense moments this is something you should pick up.
5 reviews
February 22, 2022
I have been listening her stores and i am the lucky one. I met her stories last year. Many readers are waiting. By the way Isobelle's narration is more than excellent. Her audio books are highly recommended.
This book was a little different from the ones i had been listening. The first book i came across which the main character was a boy. Anyhow i enjoyed and liked the story as usual. I love all her stories and will wait the sequels(joined the club). Thank you Isobelle!!

Profile Image for Sean Harding.
3,259 reviews22 followers
October 10, 2018
This was an award winning book, but then I often ind award winning books do not resonate with me, and this is no exception, I just did not get into it at all, and found it rather forgettable as well. The big positive point, at least it was a stand alone novel and not part of a trilogy or a series as most books in this genre tend to be.
I'm sure it is loved by many, but this one, not for me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 100 reviews

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