Audiobook Review: Shiver by Allie Reynolds
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Penguin Audio (January 19, 2021)
Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
Narrator: Olivia Vinall
When they were young, they thought they were invincible. Now a group of former pro snowboarding friends are reunited a decade after the height of their careers. But only five of them have made it—Milla, Curtis, Brent, Heather, and Dale. Missing are Odette, who none of them have seen much of since the catastrophic accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down, and of course, Saskia, who is dead.
Like the others, our narrator Milla had received an invitation several weeks ago with instructions to arrive at Le Rocher, the remote ski resort in the French Alps where they had all trained and competed that fateful season. Before, she had thought she knew who invited them, but now she’s not so sure, because when the five of them get to the resort, the place is deserted, and the cable cars back to the bottom of the mountain have stopped running. They are also greeted by an icebreaker game meant to draw out their secrets and separate from their cellphones, but when they finally realize it is a trap, it is too late. Whoever had set it up seems intent on reminding them all of Saskia, who had vanished on the morning of the big competition ten years ago, never to be seen again. So much time has passed that the young woman had been declared dead, the mystery of her disappearance remaining unsolved.
But the truth is, anything could have happened to Saskia that day. Each year, people are lost to any number of dangers on the mountain, including sudden avalanches or hidden crevasses. There were also rumors that Saskia could have been murdered. The popular and successful snowboarder had many admirers, and perhaps one of them had gotten a little too close. However, what everyone is thinking but no one wants to say is that Saskia had a lot of enemies too. She was ruthlessly competitive and would do anything to win. No one knew this better than Milla, her greatest rival, or even her own brother, Curtis. When it came to Saskia, her closest friends were often the victims of her ambitions, and now, someone has gathered them all in a place of dark memories to find out the truth of what happened to her. But who could it be, and why have they deliberately isolated them and left them stranded in the middle of a snowstorm?
After the outstanding read that was The Guest List left me in the mood for another locked-room mystery, I came to Shiver by Allie Reynolds knowing that it would be the perfect book for me. Aside from the tantalizing premise, I was drawn to setting. Did I mention I love thrillers that take place in cold, snowy places? And the more remote the better! I also liked the snowboarding angle. Now, I’m not athletic at all, and if there’s one thing I dislike more than doing sports, it is doing snow sports, because I hate the cold. But somehow, Reynolds made reading about halfpipes and nose grabs exciting, even when I have little interest in the topic itself. I think it has a lot to do with the way the story puts you into the competitive mindset. According to her bio, the author has had experience snowboarding and competing, and it shows. You couldn’t convey the tension, exhilaration, or the cutthroat atmosphere with such accuracy and immediacy, unless you’ve lived it before.
It also helps that it was so easy to get into the protagonist’s head. The story is told through Milla’s eyes via two timelines, one in the past and one in the present. Ten years ago, it was her dream to become a professional snowboarder, gaining sponsors and representing Britain on the international stage. Unlike her peers Odette and Saskia though, she did not have the resources or the recognition, so her season at Le Rocher was meant to be her final shot at the big league, and the desperation is palpable. Unfortunately, Milla is also impulsive. Like Marty McFly in Back to the Future, nobody calls her chicken. She’ll take on any challenge, no matter how ridiculous or ill-conceived, because she’s got a lot to prove. And as you’d expect, this gets her into a lot of trouble, even when her original plan was to do nothing but eat, sleep and train. Another thing she did not expect to find was Brent and Curtis, two best friends in the men’s competition who both show their romantic interest in her. In a place of so much competitive drive and pressure, there’s also a lot of sexual tension flying around, which makes this mystery even more delectable.
Not surprisingly, all the secrets and lies come home to roost in the present, as the five remaining members of the group meet again, discovering for the first time the wrongs they had committed against each other in the past. While they may still call themselves friends, it’s painfully clear there is not a shred of trust left between them. From the start, we know that many bad things happened ten years ago, and even if we aren’t aware of the specifics, Saskia’s shadow is ever present, weighing heavily on the events of the story. One or more people in the group know the truth of what happened, a puzzle that is gradually, teasingly revealed to the reader as the plot progresses.
It’s hard to believe this is Allie Reynolds’ debut, for I truly feel that Shiver can stand on its own against many other thrillers of its type by more veteran authors. The audiobook was also amazing; I finished listening to this one in just one session while making holiday meal preparations, and my heart was in my throat almost the entire time. In addition, Olivia Vinall did a great job as narrator, voicing Milla perfectly, and you could tell she was enjoying the story while reading because her enthusiasm seemed authentic. Bottom line, I can’t recommend this book enough. If you are a fan of locked-room thrillers and mysteries, you’ve got to check this one out.