Shiver by Allie Reynolds
Publishing Date: 21st January 2021
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.
How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.
The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.
In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.
Milla accepts the invitation to reunion in the French Alp, thinking it comes from one of her former friends – ten years ago they were all there, in Le Rocher, training and preparing for the British Open competition in snowboarding. She hopes to spend the weekend catching up with Curtis, Brent, Heather and Dale. Not with Saskia – as she went missing those ten years ago and her body has never been found, and not with Odette, who has an awful accident during the competition and ended up a quadriplegic. When they arrive to the resort at the top of the mountain, it turns out that it’s almost stranded – there is nobody there, there is no staff, it’s dark and deserted and the lift stopped working. The „icebreaker“ game goes awry when they realize someone knows their secrets and from then the things go out of hand – they know they’re trapped. Tension rise when they start to ask each other who has invited them there? Who can you trust? What really happened to Saskia? Can it be that she… lives?
The story is told in alternating timeliness and I find it a great idea – I couldn’t wait to see what happened in the past and then I couldn’t wait to see what is happening in the present. Actually, it was the first book in a very, very long time where I wanted to sneak a peek at the end, to see who did it – because why they did it, this I could understand, really. We get to know the group now, ten years after falling apart when one of the group members mysteriously disappeared and has never been found. The characters haven’t seen each other after that and nobody knows how this re – union is going to turn out, but I think nobody guessed what’s really going to happen, starting with their mobiles going awol and the ski lift not working. It’s so cleverly constructed and you can see that the author knows what she’s writing about, that the snowboarding world is close to her heart. And really – I will never again watch skateboarding competitions in the same way, knowing what really happens behind the scenes.
The characters. Oh my. None of the characters were actually so completely likeable – all of them had flaws and while flaws have made them this bit rougher and authentic, they all made many very dubious and immoral decisions. Actually, the female characters were, in my opinion, portrayed worse as the male characters, and I don’t mean their descriptions and development because they were absolutely brilliant, but I mean their personalities. While the boys/men were mostly fair players, the girls were awful. Really. You couldn’t trust them, you couldn’t leave them alone in each other’s company, the catfight was overwhelming and they simply played dirty. It pained me a little to see this, because, you know, sisterhood, we should support each other etc but competition probably is in our blood, we can’t help it – and Allie Reynolds, consciously or unwittingly, has brilliantly captured all of this. I’ll be honest – I couldn’t stand Saskia so I really didn’t feel sorry after her disappearance; however I must not be a monster as I started to feel sorry for her after reading what has really happened. Ouch. Still, I couldn’t help thinking that she deserved it – I hope it doesn’t make me a bad person. Actually, let’s be honest, all of the characters had their reasons to want Saskia gone, right?
The author slowly peeled off all the layers of this story, keeping us guessing, deducing and wondering – all of characters had secrets that they kept for 10 years and eventually they are forced to tell the truth – I love the complexity of this plot and I really liked the curvy way that led to the reveal. Saskia going missing seemed to haunt the characters, but it also looks like she has haunted them when she was present as well. There is always a person like Saskia in the group, plotting, dishonest, not playing fair but with huge personality and people attracted to her like bees to honey.
Standing ovation to the author for the way she has chosen her main protagonist, Milla. Yes, I admit, there were perhaps moments that I missed on a different point of view, but altogether I think it was a masterstroke in giving Milla free hand in telling the story – she was enigmatic, however I also wasn’t sure if I can completely trust her and in the end I was always on edge with her, wanting to believe her but not being completely sure I can – it turned out to be a perfect solution and way to tell this story. It was so easy to fell for Milla – ten years ago she dreamt of becoming a professional snowboarder and representing Britain internationally and you kept everything crossed for this young, naive and full of hope girl who had to fight for her dream, not having the resources and support. But the more you got to know her you could see there is the darker side of Milla, that there is so much more to her than meet eye at first, and I loved this mix.
There were great dynamics between the group and their friendship/not friendship was really well captured. There was easiness and honesty in their relationships and they behaved like real young people. It was interesting to see the difference between them and how they changed in those 10 years, how Saskia’s disappearance changed them and their lives.
I loved how the author used the nature, environment and setting to play a character in the book as well, making it so chilling and also atmospheric.The more you read, the more addictive the book becomes and you won’t be able to put it down. The short chapters do help – they are sharp, straight to the point and leaving you on a cliffhanger – absolutely brilliant. The pace was quick and the tension was there, until there came a moment that the story slowed down a bit somewhere in the middle but it was a minor slip and nothing that we have to worry about as the book quickly returns to its fast pace filled with action.
You have everything in this book: a group of people who used to be friends, keeping secrets, a deserted resort high on a mountain; tons of snow; no possibility to contact the outside world, what with the mobiles going missing asap; lights going off and on, doors that lock behind you, knives that go missing and the overwhelming atmosphere of being observed…
„Shiver“ was a brilliant debut novel, a captivating read that kept me on my tenterhooks and had me guessing all the time. It was really well plotted, intriguing and different and really well written, the author already has way with words. It is full of secrets, lies, competition and dark ambitions and simply everything works in this book. The author knows how to build suspense, really, I wasn’t able to put the book down. Highly recommended!
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