Shiver is former professional snowboarder Allie Reynolds’ debut novel and she certainly writes what she knows with great ease and conviction. It features a group of snowboarders and switches between two timeframes. There’s a reunion (of sorts) in the present and then a winter training season ten years earlier, that resulted in the death of a young woman.
by Allie Reynolds
Published by Hachette Australia
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the tiny 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 an isolated lodge high up a mountain, amid a looming snowstorm, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.
I quite enjoy ‘the friends brought together years after a tragedy to reveal secrets’ scenario. Of course here it’s more intriguing as each believes they’ve been invited by someone different. The group of five have lost contact. Four were all professional and avid snowboarders but for various reasons they’ve all since quit after the events of a decade earlier.
It soon becomes clear that they’ve not been brought together for joyous celebrations or reminiscing; rather someone is trying to expose secrets and lies and – worse still – reveal a possible murderer.
Reynolds alternates the the confusing circumstances of the present (ie. who arranged the weekend) with the past. We meet our group of (then) six, along with a few extras as they balance friendship and rivalry. We’re in Milla’s head so naturally on her side as the slightly-unhinged Saskia plays games with Milla and those around her. Interestingly the guys are far more supportive as competitors and I wonder if that reflects reality (the difference between males and females?).
Reynolds’ familiarity with the sport is obvious as she goes into detail about manoeuvres and tricks and offers insight into – not just the world of snowboarding – but life on the ski slopes. I liked the insight into the life of professional athletes who are less often in the public eye. Many rely on sponsorships in terms of products rather than cash and struggle to make ends meet.
In the present group are isolated at the top of a glacier so this book is promoted as a locked door mystery of sorts. Surely it must be one of them taunting the others with reminders of the past.
Of course the other option is that the threat is coming from someone else, but they struggle to identify who – other than Saskia herself – would know the circumstances of her disappearance and enact revenge. Could she be alive or is someone else seeking vengeance on her behalf?
I kinda guessed the twist here and that’s mainly because our options are limited. Reynolds does a great job at holding off on the reveal though, in addition to pacing the unfolding of past events with those of the present. We learn exactly what we need to know at the right time. It’s cleverly written in that respect and will keep readers turning page after page eager to know everyone’s fate.
My only gripe with this book is that I’d become embroiled in the competitive world of snowboarding so keen to know how our competitors fared against each other in the last competition of the season ten years earlier. But alas….
This is a great debut from Reynolds. I really liked Milla and appreciated her flaws (and unabashed naked ambition), along with the remaining characters, all of whom are complex. Not ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ or without faults and redeeming features.
Shiver by Allie Reynolds will be published in Australia by Hachette in late January 2021.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.