Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on Shiver by Allie Reynolds. I’ve had this in my TBR pile for a while now, but in a year where I’m determined to give some of my older books some much needed attention, it seemed a perfect time – and season – to read it. I’m so glad i did. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 19 January 2021
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group

About the Book

In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm.

When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she’s expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she’s never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.

Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones–missing. And inside the hotel, detailed instructions await them: an icebreaker game, designed to draw out their secrets. A game meant to remind them of Saskia, the enigmatic sixth member of their group, who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.

Stranded in the resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust. Because someone has gathered them there to find out the truth about Saskia…someone who will stop at nothing to get answers. And if Milla’s not careful, she could be the next to disappear…

My Thoughts

I went into this book knowing very little about the sport of Snowboarding. I finished up knowing a whole lot more, including the fact that Snowboarders are quite clearly insane. I’m not talking about the plot of this book – a reunion which goes horribly, fatally awry – but just the punishment they put their bodies through, the talk of twist, jumps, including one called The Crippler for heaven’s sake 😳, broken bones, dislocations, torn ligaments and various sprains and scrapes, all in pursuit of a thrill and a sense of freedom. It’s clearly not just a sport, it’s a compulsion and, in the case of Shiver, a very, very, deadly one.

We join out not quite so friendly group at the start of a reunion weekend, ten years on from a very fateful season at the French Alps resort of Le Rocher. It was a season which changed all of their lives, one from which not everyone returned home safely. It is clear that a tragedy occured, and that this reunion is as much a memorial as a time of drunken reminiscing, and from the very start Allie Reynolds sets the scene of isolation, uncertainty and that hint that further tragedy is bound to follow. The location itself, a remote snow resort out of season where the intrepid five will be the only visitors, adds and air of suspense, but the very atmospheric setting is underlined with a sense of foreboding, something that you can’t quite put your finger on but which is absolutely compelling. You just know that not everyone will leave this weekend unscathed either, but who falls prey to ill fate, or even who you want to fall victim, will be slowly revealed and developed over time.I know that sound a bit harsh but, trust me, these are not necessarily all likeable people, certainly not all of the time, so I feel no guilt at not mourning their potential demise.

There is a sense of ‘And Then There Were None’ about this book, just with boards and lots of snow. Told over a dual timeline – the current reunion and that fateful season ten years earlier – the author does a grand job of building the suspense quickly and sucking me into the story. I can’t even rightly say what it was that pulled me in, but the chapters are short, the pace as fast yet controlled as a pro snowboarders finest jump, and I absolutely tore through it in just one afternoon and evening. That competitiveness between the two strong female competitors, Saskia and Milla, was believable and undeniably toxic, and it just drove the story on, wondering how they would get the better of each other next time. As for the tension between the characters present at the reunion, it is off the scale. Intense mistrust and suspicion that throbs form the page, and as they face shocks and surprises in a very cleverly crafted locked-resort mystery, each new twist comes served with a new kind of madness. Guilt and remorse are two very powerful emotions dominating this get together, but just who, and why remains to be seen.

Allie Reynolds created some relatable and yet also often loathsome characters. The action takes place form the point of view of Milla, and it’s perhaps because of this that I felt a modicum more affinity towards her than the others, She is far from perfect, fighting as hard as, if not harder than, everyone else to achieve her goals. Her background couldn’t be more different from Saskia and her brother Curtis, but the thing which compels her on is very understandable and for that reason perhaps, she garnered a smidge more trust and empathy from me. I also really liked Curtis and Brent, but certainly more their personas from the previous decade more than their present day behaviour. The further the story is revealed, the more i understood them, but liking them was very challenging for very good reasons that become clear in the reading.

A story of competitive sport that takes a very dark and obsessive turn, of jealousy, toxic friendships, revenge and, ultimately, murder, set against a backdrop that is every bit as chilling as the story. I could feel the freeze seeping from the page, the sense of place being so authentic and so acutely described, and the break neck pacing made this a very thrilling and totally addictive read. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I got was a book that I wholeheartedly recommend. But you won’t get me up a mountain anytime soon, especially not near snowboarders. Those guys are nuts.

About the Author

British-born Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder who swapped her snowboard for a surfboard and moved to the Gold Coast in Australia, where she taught English as a foreign language for fifteen years. She still lives in Australia with her family. Reynolds’s short fiction has been published in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden, and South Africa. Shiver is her debut novel.