I think it’s almost a year since a surprise copy of Shiver by Allie Reymolds arrived from Headline and I would like to thank Jennifer Doyle for sending me a limited edition proof. I’m delighted to share my review of Shiver today.
Published by Headline on 21st January 2021, Shiver is available for purchase through the links here.
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.
My Review of Shiver
Ten years on, Milla’s reunion might not be quite as she hopes.
I so enjoyed Shiver. It’s a fresh, modern example of a locked room mystery with plenty of menace and wonderful traditional elements, like lights suddenly going out, that readers recognise, so that they bring their own reading experience to the book and, thereby, the tension is heightened. Allie Reynolds has built on those traditions skilfully and effectively.
I’m not usually particularly taken with dual timeline narratives but here I loved the balance between the present day and ten years earlier because motives behind the present predicament are so compellingly uncovered in the past. I found myself exclaiming aloud as details were revealed and motives became clear. The short, pacy and exciting chapters meant I consumed Shiver in a couple of days as I was desperate to know how the book ended. I found it gripping.
The characters are superb representations of flawed and often quite unpleasant individuals. Any one of them could be behind the situation they find themselves in and any one of them could be a murderous danger to the others. With Milla’s perspective leading both the the story and the reader, I got to the point where I was totally confused as to whom I could trust, and was kept guessing throughout. I really enjoyed the way that, through Milla, Allie Reynolds manipulated me.
Speaking of reader manipulation, I was so drawn in to the characterisation that if Saskia hadn’t been already been declared dead I’d have slipped into the pages of Shiver and murdered her myself. She made my blood boil. I think it speaks for the power of Allie Reynolds’ writing that I had no idea if Saskia had actually died or if she were currently manipulating the others, but I really wanted her to have suffered and felt as vengeful as the others towards her! You’ll need to read Shiver for yourself to see if my wishes came true as I’m not spoiling the story, but I did find my own reader response quite disturbing. The underlying exploration of how competitive people like Saskia can be so driven was an added layer of fascination too, as was the exploration of gender through her and Milla. Being female does not have to mean being weak or allowing others to take away your ambition. Indeed, the themes of Shiver make it more than an just exciting and entertaining thriller. Guilt, expectation, manipulation, relationships, secrets, ambition and various kinds of desire from sexual to family recognition, ripple through character actions making Shiver a cracking psychological read too.
With the enclosed setting of the Alpine resort, Shiver has a literal as well as metaphorical coldness to it. The possible natural dangers of avalanche and crevasse make danger ever present and I had no idea if any of the party would make it out alive. I also thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious thrill of snowboarding because of the author’s absolute authority in presenting it so vividly without patronising her reader. I found myself on the slopes with the characters.
I really, really enjoyed Shiver. I found it an assured, well written and thrilling read from Allie Reynolds. It completely held my attention at a time when I’m struggling to focus and I think that speaks volumes for the power of the narrative. Loved it!
About Allie Reynolds
Allie Reynolds is the author of the thriller Shiver, which was published on 21st January 2021.
Born and raised in Lincoln, England, she moved to Australia in 2004. She lives on the Gold Coast with her two young boys and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.
Many years ago she competed at snowboard halfpipe. She spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada. These days she sticks to surfing – water doesn’t hurt as much as ice when you fall on it.
Her first ever job was a Saturday job in a bookstore, at age 14. She taught English for many years and became a full-time writer in 2018.