I read Shiver a while back and loved it and meant to say so here, but never got round to it. Then a few days ago I picked up a copy of Linger (the sequel) and was instantly drawn back into that world. It is, if anything, even better. Books don’t often reduce me to tears but the last few pages of this one did. What did Frost say? “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader”? Maggie Stiefvater must have had trouble with a soggy exercise book (I always use one first) or a dangerously wet keyboard while she was rounding this story off.
Grace Brisbane is an ordinary girl – boringly ordinary, really, in the opinion of her friends and all who know her. Hard-working and serious – straight-As, never misses school and, as she says of herself she “would never colour outside the line”.
Nothing odd at all, then? Well, she is very independent. She has to be, because her businessman father is almost never at home and her artist mother spends her time in the studio upstairs and goes out in the evenings. Grace looks after herself – and to a large extent looks after them.
In fact, her father is such a bad parent that when Grace was seven he forgot he had her with him in the car and left her locked in it for hours at the height of summer without any air or water. Everyone agreed that she should have died. No one could understand how or why she didn’t. And thereby hangs a tale – this tale! – but I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say that if you like werewolf stories set in the ordinary, everyday world (in this case small-town America) rather than say 19th-century Transylvania, then these two books are just what you’ve been waiting for.
And though it says TEEN on the back, ignore that nonsense. These books are for everyone.
Afterthought: What does TEEN mean anyway? I supposed, mindlessly, that it meant aimed at teenagers, with teenagers as the main characters and the adults in the story mostly brain-dead, nasty or downright evil and living in their own materialistic world. Then I thought, but hold on, 13-year-olds are children, 19-year-olds are adults. What kind of stupid generalisation is this? Then the word “adult” got me thinking again and now I’m beginning to wonder whether TEEN simply means not ADULT – i.e. Trust us: this book contains no explicit sex so you can safely buy it for your teenage niece/nephew (who probably knows more about sex, at least in its more weird and wonderful forms, than you do!).) So there you go.
Second Afterthought: (Just can’t stop today!) I want to make a confession. At first, of course, I identified with Grace. She is the protagonist, she is very sympathetic, and her situation is one we can all imagine ourselves in – at least if urban fantasy forms part of our cultural diet But gradually, as the second book got under way, I found myself identifying more and more with Isabel (“she-of-the-pointy-boots”), who – if you’ve read only the first book you will know to be a nasty bitch and you will begin to think I must be one too. But I challenge you to finish the second book and not begin to find that while Grace has become a bit of a damsel in distress – through no fault of her own, I hasten to add! – her knight in shining armour is failing dismally (he is busy reading Rilke and Mandelstam, which I must say I find refreshing even if it’s not going to save the situation) and Isabel has completely taken over from Grace as the one you find yourself following avidly from scene to scene. There is a third book out now. Will Isabel dominate it? Or Grace? I was about to say that I’m going to download it to my Kindle, but I’ve just checked and the Kindle edition costs more than the paperback. Totally absurd. Let’s keep cutting down our forests!