Published: June 18, 2013
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.
This book could be described as an old-school creature feature in novel form. When a host of sarcastic twenty-somethings stage a reunion at a secluded winter cabin, a devastating blizzard traps them indoors, forcing them to circle the wagons against an onslaught of attacks from ashen, long-limbed monsters that legend has it only come out when it snows.
The creatures are introduced in a riveting prologue, but once the author establishes her mundane characters, winter woods setting, the plot devolves into a slow plod toward a final confrontation. We know the monsters are there, we know our heroes will be forced to fight them, but Ahlborn insists on saving the good stuff until the finale.
Essentially, there are no twists or turns just very predictable actions by the cabin dwellers. For the first half of The Shuddering, tension and suspense are clearly lacking. Though a peripheral character does become the first to “bite the dust” (or should I say snow).
But then, suddenly, things start getting good. Once the characters are fully aware of their plight and begin to mount a defense, The Shuddering magically transforms from rich boy melodrama into a stark, unsettling tale of snowbound survival. Things get dirty, things get nasty, and when the author finally forces her twenty-somethings to knuckle up, the book really delivers. It’s a few chapters of good old-fashioned monster magic tacked onto the back end of some super predictable happenings.
The ending is right out of Twilight Zone or a Stephen King novel and you can see it coming a mile away. Is the book good? I gave it four stars just because I love a good spooky story and I don’t care how predictable it was!
I wish I had waited and read it in the winter instead of a hundred degree Spring day.