After reading The Raven Boys, I was inspired to turn back to the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (although I found out there’s a fourth book I’ve never read and I’m still shook!), also by Maggie Stiefvater, and reread it. The first book in the trilogy is Shiver. This series was my favorite throughout middle school, primarily because of the relationship between Sam and Grace and it’s complex plot line. I also think it’s interesting to note that this trilogy was published prior to the Raven Boys, and there is a significant difference in the writing style. While the writing in Shiver is still great, it’s less poetic and haunting than the writing in The Raven Boys. Not a bad thing, I just thought it was an interesting note.
The Wolves of Mercy Falls focuses primarily on a pack of werewolves living in woods bordering a small Minnesotan town. Shiver focuses on one of the werewolves, Sam, and his relationship with a human girl, Grace. When Grace was young, she was attacked by wolves outside her home. Sam (as a wolf) saved her, and since then they’ve had an interesting connection. Through the years (six, to be exact), they watched each other, and basically fell in love even though they were different species. Through unfortunate circumstances, Sam is shot as a wolf and shifts into a human on Grace’s back porch. Now they are both finally the same species, and cement their love for each other. The only problem is, the shifting from wolf to human and vice versa is involuntarily, correlated with the temperature. As much as Grace and Sam try, they know their time together is limited, and eventually Sam will shift back into a wolf. And his shifts from wolf to human are numbered.
“It was as if I had thought all along I was a complete picture and he had revealed I was a puzzle and had taken me apart and put me back together again.”
Now, I know it sounds kind of silly. Two “people” falling in love while they are different species?” This book is not some weird animal porn, or an insta love scenario. Maggie Stiefvater does a magnificent job of creating a natural relationship between Sam and Grace, one full of chemistry and intimacy. In fact, their relationship together might be one of my favorite book relationships ever because they truly, truly seem to belong together. The cheesy adage that two people “complete each other” is actually true in this case. It isn’t that they were lacking before they met each other. But when they are together, they both just fit, and made each other the best possible versions of each other.
“And then I opened my eyes and it was just Grace and me – nothing anywhere but Grace and me – she pressing her lips together as though she were keeping my kiss inside her, and me, holding this moment that was as fragile as a bird in my hands.”
I also have a deep love for her characters. Grace is practical, intelligent, and organized, but obviously a secret romantic if she watched and waited for her wolf every winter for years. Sam is sensitive and into poetry, but not one of those broody, mysterious types. He’s open with Grace and doesn’t take himself too seriously. All Sam really wants is to remain human. He hates forgetting himself and Grace.
Besides these two great main characters, we also get a nice group of secondary characters. Isabel comes into their group almost by accident, and isn’t immediately welcomed. However, she is a wonderful addition. She’s sarcastic, seemingly apathetic, calculating, and manipulative. She’s the most brutal with you when she cares about you the most. And her heart is so, so big, bigger than she knows. Rachel is one of Grace’s best friend, and is the goofy, well-natured friend you always wanted. She is always there for Grace, and a peacemaker. Olivia is Grace’s other best friend. She shares her passion for the wolves, but their friendship together is initially more strained.
Then there’s the whole group of wolves Sam grew up with who we never really get to meet as human but still seem as real to us and are worth mentioning. Beck is his “adoptive” dad, understanding, quiet, and compassionate. Ulrik is the jokester, passes his love of poetry to Sam, and always lightens the mood. And Paul is the alpha, calm and in charge, sharing his love of music with Sam. Together, this unlikely trio raise Sam and create a home for him.
One thing worth mentioning is that the parental situations in this book are bad. Sam’s parents tried to kill him when they found out he was a wolf, so now they are in jail. Luckily, he has Beck, Paul, and Ulrik, but that doesn’t make up for the trauma his parents inflicted on him. Grace’s parents are borderline neglectful, leaving her to become independent and self-sufficient.
Overall, you can tell this book was meant to be the beginning of a series. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per se, but you know that there is more to the story when it leaves off. The premise is very interesting (I have a soft spot for paranormal mythology like that) and the characters truly are delightfully imperfect. And of course, the romance between Sam and Grace is just so sweet that that alone could’ve pulled this book through.
Have you read this book? What did you think?