The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2013

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

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.

Review –

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.

 

 

The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #5) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: September 22, 2009

Chaos is coming, old son.
With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.
No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?
As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.
Review –
The plot is a complex blend of mystery, history, greed, art, and lies, yet even with all its complexity, its never overly complicated. It’s quite cleverly constructed, and though some reviewers compare Penny to Agatha Christie, with all due respect to Ms. Christie, and I do love her books, Penny’s books reach further than Christie’s. Penny’s books explore so much more than just the solving of a murder. The Brutal Telling, especially, explores the broader themes that give rise to a violent and desperate act like murder.
 I wondered how long it would take the author, Louise Penny, to have a villager from Three Pines, accused and convicted of a murder and that’s exactly what she did in The Brutal Telling.
We discover that one of the owners and caretakers of the Bistro and Bed and Breakfast is not as good a person from what shows on the outside. He has been greedy most of his life and has lied to everyone, even his partner.
We never find out the name of the hermit or how he came to be in the cabin full of treasures in the woods, or where the treasures came from. There are too many unanswered questions.  I believe the author will tell us in another installment of this series the answers t those and other questions, like-did Chief Inspector Armand Gamache put the right man behind bars.  I think not.
Five stars *****
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