Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

Title: The Shuddering
Author: Ania Ahlborn
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: 47North
Pages: 307
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Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents' mountain Colorado cabin - until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane's hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls - and hunger rises. After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight - tooth and nail, bullet and blade - for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.

The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn is one of the rare books that really kept my interest from start to finish. I blew through it in a couple nights and actually thought about getting back to it during the day. There were multiple aspects of this book that all came together to create something that I just couldn't bring myself to put down. Romance, suspense, horror - this book has it.

Ania Ahlborn has a way of creating characters that are believable and easy to empathize with. I identified completely with April. While the other characters in the book were irritated and hating her, I was thinking to myself, "That's me!" Well, at least until she totally flipped her lid... The romance in this book was actually convincing as well (most of it, anyway), something that not all horror novels are able to get right. I felt Jane's pain and I believed Sawyer's internal struggle. That's not to say that there were no flaws in the character department, however.

Ryan was an annoying character, a little too full of himself (this is one of those places where I identified with April). While I did believe the love he showed for his sister, the relationship between Ryan and Lauren was rushed and a little implausible. While I'm sure she was a nice girl, the speed with which he decided she was something special was pretty farfetched.

"What about the horror in this horror novel?" you ask. I was on the edge of my seat. The bad guys in this book were something entirely new and not just your generic ghostie or beastie. They were in every way terrifying, even more so once it's revealed that they really aren't "bad" for the sake of it. My only regret is that they were not further explored. Where did they come from? Why are they there? Why haven't they been discovered yet? That being said, I loved the creatures in this book and I'd love to see more original content as opposed to the standard rehashing of old ideas.

The one thing that really irked me in this book was the constant cutting to other characters that no one cares about. While I realize this is meant to build the suspense and show the terrifying nature of the "big bad," I really wish the author had stuck to the main storyline a little more closely in the first half of the book.

I really had to think this book over for a couple days before reviewing to decide how I felt about the ending. All said and done, I think it was perfect. While this ending may upset some, I think it really does work with the rest of the story. I highly recommend The Shuddering to anyone who enjoys horror with a cabin-in-the-woods feel and a whole new type of monster. Perhaps reading it during daylight hours is the best option - otherwise you may end up sleeping with the lights on.