If you’re in the market for a wintry creature-feature to snuggle up with by the fire while you watch the snow pile up outside, Ahlborn has written The Shuddering for you. Also, it would be a great choice to take on a weekend ski trip, especially if you’re staying in a secluded cabin in the woods.
The first scene of this book is so beyond good—wow! I was completely hooked. I wished that the book could have kept up with that sort of momentum throughout, because with this style of book, what I really want is to spend time with the creatures, with the horror, and for me, this one didn’t deliver on that.
The scenes that you do get with the creatures are great—I loved the descriptions of their physical features, how they stalked and attacked, and even their personalities. The slow realization of the characters that what they are dealing with is not just some wolves but a completely unknown quantity is a great, tense ride.
Where the narrative got bogged down for me was that it spent a lot of time focusing on the romantic entanglements of the characters, and in particular the will-they-won’t-they tug of war between main character Jane and her old boyfriend. To be honest, I just didn’t see the point of all that runaround and it dragged for me. Of course the characters need some sort of background, some reason for being there, but I felt like that narrative just went around in circles without creating any fresh tracks. None of the characters, their decisions, or their life struggles felt unique or all that interesting to me.
But once the action kicks in, it really kicks in, and I found the second half of the book to be much more engaging. It goes to interesting and innovative places—for characters that are literally trapped in the snow far away from anyone or anything that might be able to help them, once they know what sort of dire situation they are in, they work every angle and it is great.
This was a quick read for me and though it isn’t perfect, it is definitely great as a winter read, and I always enjoy reading books set in the state where I live!
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.