- Title: The Gatherer
- Author: Kit Trzebunia
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Genre: Fantasy, Coming of Age, Young Adult
- Would I recommend: Oh my goodness, YES. This book was enthralling and so very good! If you’re a fantasy fan and want a heroine you can absolutely fall in love with, read The Gatherer.
A coming-of-age fantasy tale of healing, purpose and the true nature of love.
“A wrong should always be addressed, Peregrine, but you cannot always make the scales come out even. There will be times in your life when you must bear a heavier load than someone else, simply because you can.”
In the quiet kingdom of Moran, legend tells of two powers that arise in times of crisis. Growing up in the forests of Blackwood as the daughter of a King’s Ranger, Peregrine trains weaponry and learns the healing arts, never dreaming those tall tales could affect her own life—no matter what the animals call her.
After her beloved father vanishes into the deadly White River that separates Moran from the vast, magical empire of Din Sul, Peregrine struggles to find her calling. Does the title the animals gave her fit into a bigger picture? Is there a counterpart who might finally understand her unique gifts?
Then the Spear Prince of Moran turns Peregrine’s small world upside down with a secret of his own. When Din Sul targets the prince, Peregrine will do whatever it takes to save him. But how could an inexperienced young warrior possibly outwit a powerful mage?
And how does a broken healer find healing?
Fans of Robin McKinley’s Chalice and Spindle’s End and of Patricia A. McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld will delight in Peregrine’s connection with nature and her journey towards a place of belonging.
Peregrine is the daughter of a King’s Ranger in the kingdom of Moran. It’s something of an idyllic childhood, with Peregrine having the freedom to learn things that interest her, like the healing arts and weaponry. She’s also free to roam the surrounding forests to her heart’s content, communing freely with nature and using her unusual gift of communicating with animals. She can read the birr – something akin to the Force – of animals, nature, and people, and as a healer, she can work with the birr to bring restoration and health.
The animals have a name for Peregrine: the Gatherer, a figure out of legend. According to prophecy, the Gatherer and the Voice of Command together can defeat those who would do Moran harm. But what, Peregrine thinks, could she have to do with this prophecy? Then her father disappears in the White River that forms the boundary between Moran and the secretive kingdom of Din Sul, and rumors of a possible invasion begin to swirl.
Kit Trzebunia has the gift of writing characters that are so real, so relatable, you feel like you’re right there in the pages with them. I loved Peregrine. She reminded me of myself as a child (except I didn’t have any magical gifts and nobody taught me how to use a sword, more’s the pity). And every character is well-crafted. None of them felt like throwaways. They all had histories and strengths and flaws, and I cared deeply about them.
The book is a hefty 826 pages (the average length of one of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books), but it didn’t feel too long. It drew me in and pulled me right along, and I could hardly put it down. The story is complex, but never cumbersome. Events thread in and out and among each other gracefully, different melodic lines in a symphony of story. We see Peregrine grow up and grow into her gifts. The Spear Prince of Moran comes into her life and brings unexpected change as his own unique gifts are revealed. There is betrayal, and intrigue, and action, and suspense, and romance, and humor, and so much more. Trzebunia weaves all the threads together in a marvelous conclusion that leaves me hungering for the next book in the series.
This is in the running to be one of the best books I read this year (yes, I know it made my best of 2023, because I got it in under the wire, but it’s so good, I may count it for this year, too!). It is beautifully crafted, emotionally compelling, and fabulous in all the best ways. If you’re a fan of fantasy, you need to read The Gatherer.
Review originally shared on Reedsy Discovery. Thanks to Reedsy and the author for an advance copy. I’m reviewing this book because I want to. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.