Siblings Ryan and Jane decide to spend one last holiday before their family vacation home in the mountains is sold after a divorce. They invite their closest friends, but all that does is bring up old wounds and awkward memories. As a blizzard snows them in, frustration builds between the friends, all the while something in the forest inches closer and closer.
Why this book?: I was in the mood for some stereotypical, potentially gorey, horror. This was available on Scribd and the summary caught my attention, so let’s hope this scratches that itch I’ve been having!
My feelings on this book go in two, very different directions. On one hand, it was exactly what I was looking for! It was a very stereotypical horror that took place in a snowed-in cabin, and I really enjoyed that aspect! On the other hand, it wasn’t anything special and I wasn’t overall blown away with the storytelling. Every time I found something that I enjoyed about this book, there was always something that worked against that aspect and made my whole experience reading this book frustrating to say the least.
As I mentioned before, I wanted a stereotypical, gorey horror book. And The Shuddering delivered on that front! There were quite a few twists when it came to who was being attacked/killed, and a definitely thought that the book was going to go one way before it was revealed to be going in a completely different direction. Ahlborn knows how to write good twists and sustained suspense throughout the novel, which caught and held my attention in the … single day that it took me to read this book. When I say that this book caught me and held on tightly, I’m not joking. On the flip side of grabbing my attention and holding onto it, I was overall just … disappointed with how this book ended. It felt very much cut-off, like I had read the book for no reason since nothing was resolved. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re not a fan of things ending and not getting the majority of the answers, it might be better to skip this one and pick a different book.
Another reason I picked up this book was the monster-horror that was hinted at. Having gotten into more monster-related horror these past few years with my roommate, I was expecting a certain pattern to be followed for Maximum Suspense, which usually involves only hinting at the monster before a Big Reveal a certain ways through the narrative. However, within the first chapter, the monsters were revealed, with full descriptions and everything. Which, okay, that’s fine, we can still learn more about them so there’s still suspense related to their role in this story … except we learn literally nothing about the monsters throughout the book. The main aspect of horror that I was expecting throughout this novel, and we basically got nothing about it. I was expecting more from the monsters, maybe some explanation about where they had come from, but from what I can remember … we got nothing.
With the horror from the monsters being a little less than disappointing, I have to say that the conflict between the characters was definitely entertaining enough to keep me reading. There was a LOT of drama going on within the group, and I guess I was also in the mood for that because that kept me going through the night, not even really caring about the monsters anymore. When trying to explain this book to my roommate, I almost had to draw a diagram just to explain what was going on with them. Ahlborn knows how to write complex characters and relationships, which really was the saving grace for this book for me. I found myself rooting for the characters, because even though they made bad choices, they were complex enough for both the good and the bad to be seen. That’s why the ending that I mentioned earlier frustrates me even more–there was no solid ending for the characters. It was just oddly cut-off, which really made me struggle with this book.
Final Rating: ★★★☆☆
Overall, this book was frustrating but good. I loved parts of it, but other aspects were super annoying and only worked against it. The end was abrupt and left basically everything unsolved. While there were things that I really enjoyed, there were other thing that usually cancelled out what I liked, making this book overall a meh read.
Would I Recommend?
If you’re looking for a stereotypical horror book that just has a bunch of characters working through issues while having the background inconvenience of being hunted by random monsters, sure! I wouldn’t recommend this book, though, if you’re specifically looking for some good monster-focused horror.
Published: June 18th, 2013
Page Count: 283
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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.