Grace lives in a house on the edge of a mysterious wood in rural Minnesota, America. When she was nine, she was attacked by wolves. But one yellow-eyed member of the pack protected her. Ever since, Grace has been aware of a bond between herself and that wolf that now watches her from the darkness of the woods during winter.
Now, many years after the attack, Grace's friends are tired of hearing about her imagined connection to a wolf. Wolves are man's enemy, and it is unnatural for an attractive teenage girl to feel a bond with a savage animal. But at the start of winter every year, the wolf with the yellow eyes comes to the edge of the woods and watches Grace as if longing for her to approach him.
When wolves kill a local teenage boy, Grace's whole community goes crazy and hunters go into the wood to shoot every wolf they can find. Grace is terrified that her wolf will be slaughtered, so she tries to stop the shooting - but not before some of the wolves are hit.
Then Grace finds an injured boy with yellow eyes shivering on the back porch of her house. One look at his eyes and she knows that this is her wolf in human form. She takes him into the house to clean his wounds, and slowly the story of the wolf with yellow eyes emerges.
The boys' name is Sam and he tells Grace his terrible secret. He is a werewolf who takes on his human shape each year when spring arrives. He is now in his human form because of his injuries. He was attacked and turned into a werewolf when he was seven and has spent his winters with the wolves in the woods, and summers as a human. Grace is stunned by his story, but she knows that she has always been in love with this wolf/man and that she must protect him at all costs.
Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver is so well written and thought-out, that it is totally convincing despite its improbability. There may be slight holes in the plot, and at times the story's set-up might echo another highly successful series of youth fiction novels, but the characters, backgrounds and mythology are so clever and persuasive the whole thing appears original and fresh.
Stiefvater has taken elements from many sources and made them her own. Shiver is an intense, riveting and at times moving read for anyone looking for a classy sub-gothic thrilling romance. Told from both Sam and Grace's points of view, the emphasis is ever shifting and this is what keeps the doomed romance thrilling and interesting. Stiefvater's two protagonists are strong and dynamic, and their story is engrossing.
Twilighters might have already discovered Shiver, but hopefully the novel's position next to their beloved saga in shops won't prevent other readers from trying this excellent novel.
John Millen can be contacted on [email protected]