Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

As a young girl, Grace Brisbane is attacked and dragged from her tire swing by a pack of wolves. Though she is bitten, she is saved from serious injury and death when a wolf with odd yellow eyes steps in to save her from the others.

Over the next six years Grace avidly follows “her wolf” and he returns the favor and becomes a constant presence in the woods just beyond her home, and in her life as well. Each of them honors the strange and unexplained affinity for the other over their shared winters and through the wolf’s mysterious disappearances in the warm weather.

Sam Roth emerges from his wolf skin with the warming of the spring and summer months.  It is only then that he is able to savor the experience of being human.  When a wealthy high school student is killed by a pack of wolves, it’s open season and the men of the Mercy Falls go after the wolves with guns.  Shot in the ensuing chaos, Sam ends up, quite literally, at Grace’s back door.

No one was more skeptical than me about reading a story where a teenage girl has basically been pining away after a wolf for the last six years of her life, nor was I sold in the beginning stage of Grace’s romance with “her wolf”- Sam Roth, when we later learn his name. I was drawn in as the novel progressed and the characters were more fully defined.  I loved the mythology of the wolves and the lives that they led and the challenges they faced as both humans and adults.

Sam and Grace’s romance is touching as they can reach each other through the pain and isolation that the other has experienced. Living the existence that he has led has caused a painful and violent rift between Sam and his family, and Grace, though she tries to keep it all together suffers from her parents cheerful neglect and inattention.

A good amount of Shiver is told through flashbacks via Sam’s wolf memory  while Grace and Sam struggle to keep Sam from turning back into a wolf.  I  really enjoyed the stories of the time that Sam spent with his pack, and the different ways that each of them reacted to being a wolf.  His relationship with Beck was particularly special and I liked that Stiefvater explored their bond and tested it as Sam discovered critical new information about his  ”family”.

Shiver is at its heart a sweet romance but combined with a solid exploration of darker issues such as neglect , abuse, and betrayed trust it takes that next step and offers something more to the reader.  It definitely has me eager to read its companion and revisit these characters in Linger when it comes out next year.

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