shiver maggie stiefvaterAs long as Grace can remember, there have been wolves in the woods behind her house. Though they attacked her when she was young, she’s not afraid of them; particularly not her wolf, the golden-eyed one who watches her in the winter and whom she misses in the summer.

Sam remembers the girl he saved from the other wolves one winter and has watched every winter since, and avoided every summer – what if she recognized his eyes, which are the same when he’s a wolf and when he’s a young man?

One fall, a boy in Grace’s high school is attacked by wolves and the humans go wolf-hunting. Injured and inexplicably cast back into human form while the rest of the pack is lupine, Sam goes to Grace for help.

Now, romance is not really one of my genres of choice, though I’ve no objection to presence of romance in a plot. Shiver is decidedly in the paranormal romance genre, so it’s not surprising that I found the focus on romance a little excessive. Also the public displays of affection. You know that couple you hate? The ones who are always kissing in public? Snogging in the middle of ordering hot chocolate? Well, they’re that couple. I hate them! Except I couldn’t quite; they were just too damn sweet and too damn real.¹ It also does have a plot aside from their relationship, so between that and the excellent writing I did find it quite enjoyable. It’s not syrupy-sweet, either; too much goes wrong and there’s too much sadness for that. Furthermore, it digs into the reality that sometime people we love do bad things, sometimes out of good intentions or negligence, but sometimes for very bad reasons, and how we react to that. And sometimes people we don’t like become allies.

So if you’ve a strong aversion to romance, it’s probably not for you. But if you’re neutral on romance, it is well-written and thoughtful enough that you may just like it anyway. Besides, it has the added bonus of werewolves.

August 2009²

¹ Though people’s reaction to their PDAs did strain my willing suspension of disbelief. The woman selling them that hot chocolate? She tells them they’re cute! Ooohs and aaahs over them! Guys, she works at a shop known for amazing chocolates and better hot chocolate. It’s got to be a popular date spot; dates and chocolate go well together. Therefore, she spends many of her evenings watching annoyingly cutesy couples being all smoochy while she’s stuck at work. Assuming it’s not her first day (and she seems to be unsupervised in the store, so I think that’s a fair assumption), she shouldn’t find it cute anymore. Seriously.

² Which is a kinda silly pub date; it’s a winter book. Reading Shiver on air-conditioned subways, there was a moment of disconnect leaving the book and the train and finding that it’s summer.

Maggie Stiefvater