Shiver by Allie Reynolds (2020) Review

Thrilling and addicting. This is what snowboarding must feel like.

Why I picked up the book:

I feel that the theme for this synopsis is “I don’t need to know more,” but really, they had me at a group of people who haven’t seen each other in 10 years meet at a deserted French Alps resort. Are you with me?

The last time they saw each other, one of their friends, Saskia, disappeared. As their reunion starts, an icebreaker makes them realize they don’t know who organized this meeting. Tchan-Tchan!!!!

Quickly it becomes apparent they have every reason to fear: they all have secrets they would prefer to keep from the others; they don’t know who their “host” is, what their intentions are and how far they would go to achieve it.

The book through my criteria lens:

Let’s be honest; if there is one mystery trope I will never get tired of is a closed circle. I will pick up any mystery that promises me that, even better if it’s an isolated atmospheric setting. The problem with that is that Agatha Christie has spoiled me, so I look for particular things in a closed circle book. Will most of them satisfy me? Yes. But will they make it to a prize “auto-buy author” spot on my bookshelf? Not always.

As soon as I heard of Shiver, I knew I had to check it out – closed circle, French alps, unlikeable characters, secrets, snow. Check, check, check, check, check. I also love getting immersed in a world I’m not familiar with, so I went in with high hopes to end the book as an expert couch snowboard. Did Reynolds deliver? Well, guys. I am so sorry to say that she did! Dang, now I have to wait for her next book to be released impatiently.

If it wasn’t obvious, Shiver surprised me. Even though it is a debut novel, it met all my amateur reader expectations. The characters were well developed, and each behaved in characteristics set out to them for the book’s duration. The unlikeable characters were well-drawn, and let me tell you, I despised that person (no spoilers). The protagonist was multidimensional and made many questionable choices, but I couldn’t help getting emotionally invested in Milla.

Shiver was hard to put down, and I particularly liked the alternating chapters. I felt that each “past” chapter gave just enough background to what happened in the present without spoiling the plot, at the same time leaving you wanting more.

I am not an expert couch snowboarder, sadly. But Reynolds did a fantastic job describing that world; even if you are not familiar with the terminology, you understood the references through the characters. She did play fair, which is my number one thing. The author also came out with an excellent idea for a plot and delivered it flawlessly. Impressed. You nailed this literary crippler, Allie.

My personal feelings:

I knew I was going to love this book when the romance didn’t bother me. I usually do not like romance in my mystery, but Reynolds wove it into the plot in a way that was part of character development and didn’t distract from the story. I actually liked it because, well, I was invested in Milla.

The alternating chapters were reminiscent of The One. In the sense that every time a “past” chapter ended, I just wanted to get to the next “past” chapter. But I felt the same way about the “present” chapters. Reynolds did a great job ending each chapter in a cliffhanger.

I had a lot of fun learning about the world of snowboarders, and to me, the narrative felt like it came from someone who is passionate and knows what they are talking about. (which, from the little I gathered, IS the case). I could feel the passion for this world in each of the characters, and I appreciate that Reynolds didn’t romanticize it; trust me, we get to see the ugly side too. Who knew there was one?

Do you know what else I read? That Allie leaves in Australia now and has swapped the snowboard for a surfboard. That got my wheels turning… I love Australia; I love the beach (Brazilian here). Do you know what would make me really happy? If one of her following books explores this world! There aren’t many mysteries with a closed circle plot set on a beach. Is this possible? Fingers crossed!

This is what I had, guys. Until next book, be the hummingbird!

Enjoyability     10

Characters       10

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot                  10

Execution        10

My total rating: 5

Review for this book is mentioned in this video: Video review will be up by the end of may


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