Life is fragile, particularly in winter. In extremely cold climates, the landscape of survival is especially brittle. No one knows this more than Grace and Sam. Their love escapes the boundaries of place, sense and species.
When she was eleven, Grace was dragged from her backyard and brutally attacked by a pack of wolves. It had been a long, cold winter, and food had been scarce. As she lay there, calm during what should be her death, one of the wolves pressed his nose into her hand. As Grace made eye contact with the wolf, they created a connection that went beyond the now. Something caused that wolf to become her protector instead of her assailant, and he called off the other wolves, sparing her. Six years later Grace looks for her wolf each winter, for that is when he comes. He waits at the edge of the woods behind her house and watches. Grace’s heart aches for him and for the howling pack.
Grace, at seventeen, is the responsible one. Her parents do what they like, when they like. They treat Grace as the adult, knowing that she will be fine on her own and will take care of everything. They don’t know of her connection to the wolves or her love for her yellow-eyed savior. After a boy is missing and presumed dead because of a wolf attack, the locals decide to empty the forest of the pack. That’s when Grace finds the dirty, naked boy with the yellow eyes, on her back porch. Her wolf. Shot.
Shiver is a magical tale of love and inevitable change. Who is this boy, Sam, and how did he become what he is? What is the meaning of Grace’s pull to the wolf pack? Can their love override Sam’s yearly transition? Is Sam becoming more wolf and less human? What makes a family?
With her mesmerising writing, Maggie Stiefvater has created a wintry world that can feel snug and hot chocolatey one minute and threatening and sharp the next. It is so easy (and common) to make the secondaries ciphers in contrast to the main characters, but they all feel three dimensional, real. There is an over-riding sadness to the tale; they are doomed, like Romeo and Juliet, right? It seems to have ended before it even started. Or did it?
4 out of 5 stars
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater was published August 1, 2009 by Scholastic Press. The remainder of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy are Linger (published July 13, 2010) and Forever (published July 12, 2011).
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