I’ve read a lot of paranormal romances, and the best ones are almost always self-aware of the genre that they are a part of, folding in intertextual links and subtle connections to earlier lore. Shiver does this, among many other things, quite well. It’s the story of Grace, a somewhat “different” teenage girl who falls in love with Sam, a werewolf and their struggle to be together against all odds.
A Self-Aware Narrative
One of my favourite scenes in the book happens when Sam meets Grace’s parents. She builds the scene around a classic horror movie that Sam and Grace are watching on TV before her parents come home. Apart from the quips about classic “monster” stories, she weaves in a neat, self-aware commentary on stories about werewolves. Although Maggie Stiefvater doesn’t exactly explain the how and the why of werewolves, she offers up a lot of questions that fuel the plot in many exciting ways.
Mounting Tension, Among Other Things
There were a number of excellently paced scenes that built tension so well I couldn’t put the book down. I think the most artful example might be later in the book when they are looking for Sam and the tension mounts through the dialogue, which is choppy and terse. Although not much is said, it’s pretty clear that this is a frightening scene.
Of course, there’s also a nice balance of humour, even when things get scary. Isabel’s dialogue in so many places had me laughing, but here is one of my favourites:
The prose in this book is elegant. I found myself slowing down in a lot of scenes just to read and re-read sections that sounded so lovely I didn’t want them to end. Sure, there was an exciting plot, but what kept me reading Shiver was the language.
Here is one of my favourite sentences:
“She waited to change, and I waited to change, and we both wanted what we couldn’t have” (343).
Another favourite happens earlier, when they visit a chocolate shop:
“Peppermint swirled into my nostrils, sharp as glass, then raspberry, almost too sweet, like too-ripe fruit. Apple, crisp and pure. Nuts, buttery, warm, earthy, like Sam. the subtle, mild scent of white chocolate” (280).
The Bottom Line
I’m glad I finally read this book. After looking at its’ beautiful cover on my shelf for some time, as it turns out, this book is beautiful on the inside too.
Grade: A +