Stiefvater, Maggie, Shiver, Scholastic, 2009
A short way into Maggie Stiefvater’s book Shiver I had the uncanny feeling that the story I was reading tasted of meat. Now you might think, given the subject of the book, werewolves, that that was an intellectually trumped up feeling but it wasn’t. It crept up on me unawares and washed over me. I was vaguely wondering how Shiver differed from Maggie Stiefvater’s books about faeries, Lament or Balad, and that was the answer my body came up with. Later on, less surprisingly since it is one of the driving forces of the book, it was the biting cold of winter that got to me with all the range of memories that that season brings: the icy roads, the snow, frosty windows, Christmas,… Maggie Stiefvater is a wonderful craftswoman when it comes to telling poignant stories with a magical touch to them.
The three books of hers that I have read have all been centred around an intense but impossible love that appears bound to lead to catastrophe. She skilfully builds on the tension between all-powerful desire and unbreakable constraints such that it holds the reader in its spell. The challenge for the author comes when other characters emerge as the story progresses and the exclusive attention on the love pair threatens to get dispersed. She manages it cleverly by weaving the new characters into the intense relationship such that they serve to increase the tension between the two rather than letting it drop.