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Thursday, August 5, 2010

'Linger' Wolves of Mercy Falls #2 by Maggie STIEFVATER

From the BLURB:

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Maggie Stiefvater is a YA author goddess! I love her, and I adore her series ‘Wolves of Mercy Falls’. First book ‘Shiver’ enchanted me, and Stiefvater continues to weave her magic in this second instalment, ‘Linger’.

The book starts with an ominous prologue;
This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.
From the on-set you get the idea that this second book is setting up for a big cliff-hanger. ‘Wolves of Mercy Falls’ is a trilogy, and the third and final book is out in July 2011 – so you just know, going in to ‘Linger’, that this book will be a lead-in to the finale. The prologue’s foreshadowing gears readers up for an emotional journey, but despite the slight cushioning the events in ‘Linger’ still pack quite a punch.

When the book begins Sam is cured. The events of ‘Shiver’ have seen Sam shed his wolf once and for all, and not even the bite of frost in the air will see him shift. Sam can finally be a human boy, able to enjoy summer without the worry that winter and wolf are just around the corner. Sam can finally be a boy who loves a girl called Grace. But when Grace stumbles across a dead wolf in the forest she sets off a series of events that will forever change the course of her, and Sam’s, lives. After encountering the dead wolf Grace comes down with a fever. Then she starts to get nosebleeds. Pretty soon a clawing in her stomach leaves her aching and waking in the middle of the night... Grace and Sam know what is happening, but they are helpless to stop it.

Coinciding with Grace’s story is the introduction of a new wolf to the werewolf pack. Cole St. Clair was the legendary lead singer of NARKOTIKA, a young muso prodigy who one day vanished off the face of the earth.... only to turn up on Sam’s doorstep in Mercy Falls. Cole is running. Running from his fame, his fucked up life and the ability to turn everyone he loves against him. Cole tried the oblivion of drugs and drinking, but found a far greater stupor in turning animal and shedding his humanity. Except that he can’t seem to hold onto the wolf – he keeps changing between wolf and human; the cold can’t keep him and his memories won’t let him stay a man.

Grace wants to stay with Sam. Cole wants to get away from himself. Neither will get what they want.

‘Linger’ is sublime. It’s that simple. I thought Stiefvater knocked the wind out of me with ‘Shiver’, but in this second book she brings me to my knees.

Unlike the first book, ‘Linger’ sees the narration grow beyond just Sam & Grace, to introduce new character Cole and previously minor character, Isabel Culpeper, to the cache of narrators. I was a little sceptical at first, of having 4 protagonists... but it works. Isabel and Cole are brilliant contrasts to Sam and Grace. To be honest, Sam & Grace are kind of squeaky-clean teenagers, and there was the possibility that their innocent love and sweet dispositions (where compelling in ‘Shiver’) could have been too cloyingly sweet the second time around. But Stiefvater throws Cole and Isabel into the narrative mix, giving readers the taste of two supremely messed up teenage characters who are complete opposites of Sam and Grace.

Cole is so royally screwed up; it’s hard to know where to begin. He hates his own skin, he wants to be a wolf so desperately because he can’t stand to remember the things he has done and the person he is/was/is trying not to be. Yes, he’s a famous musician, but in Mercy Falls he is trying for oblivion and to remain under-the-radar. And actually his fame doesn’t turn him into a cliché, but adds layers to his twisted history and damaged psyche. I pictured Cole as a type of Jeff Buckley muso golden-boy. Cole is a wonderful contrast to Sam, who fought so hard to remain human and who is trying so desperately to keep his girlfriend that way;
I tried to keep the irritation out of my voice as I replied, “Yeah. I get it. You want to be a wolf. You do not want to be Cole. You want to be a wolf. You’ve made it really clear. Well, I have no magic formula to make you stay a wolf. Sorry.” I noticed that he had a bottle of whiskey sitting on the countertop next to him. “Where did that come from?”
“Cabinet,” Cole said. His voice was pleasant. “Why does it bother you so much?”
“I’m not really crazy about you getting drunk.”
“I’m not really crazy about being sober,” Cole replied.
Then there’s the beautiful Isabel. Isabel is still emotionally reeling from the events of ‘Shiver’ which saw her try to save her brother, but fail. She is cold, cutting and confused. She has an iron-mask that she dons for everyone else, but deep down she is suffocating from her guilt and the part she played in her brother’s death. The only time she reveals a different side to herself is around Cole, because something about him makes her break down and *want*.

‘Linger’ offers up a second romance to complement Sam and Grace’s love story. Cole and Isabel are two very damaged people who are inexplicably drawn to one another. They are a car-crash waiting to happen, but at the same time there is something very *right* about them together. I get the impression that Stiefvater wanted to write Cole and Isabel as two people who shouldn’t be together, but can’t seem to help heading to that conclusion... but I was quite touched and intrigued by them and their tentative feelings. Their repartee provided some of my favourite scenes in ‘Linger’;
Isabel sounded unconvinced. She paused, then finally said, “You want to talk? Fine. Talk. Tell me something you’ve never told anybody else.”
I thought for a moment. “Turtles have the second-largest brains of any animal on the planet.”
It took Isabel a second to process this. “No, they don’t.”
“I know. That’s why I've never told anybody that before.”
Cole and Isabel are a very different love story compared to Sam and Grace. Where Sam and Grace fit together like pieces of a jigsaw, Isabel and Cole are lethal and combustible... but that just made them all the more interesting to read.

Stiefvater is a beautiful writer – everything comes together in her books so perfectly. The story is big and dramatic, a true page-turner and haunting fairytale. Her writing is precise and mesmeric – some of her sentences melt on your tongue for their deliciousness. I love her! I would say that Maggie Stiefvater is to YA urban fantasy what Patricia Briggs is to adult urban fantasy – they are two authors that breach genre and readership, who write beyond their ‘fantasy’ tag and mix heart-palpitating plots with sublime storytelling.

If you haven’t read ‘Shiver’ yet then you are crazy! Even those high-minded readers who scoff at the idea of a ‘werewolf’ story will find Stiefvater’s prose a lyrical delight, the story a twisted fairytale and the entire book a literary feast. If you haven’t read ‘Shiver’ yet then you absolutely, positively need to... like, now.



  1. I cannot wait to read Forever - the end of Linger definitely left me wanting more!

  2. I was a bit iffy on the Wolves of Mercy series, but you've compelled me to give it a try. =] If Linger is as good as you say, then I'll have to read both books and wait for the third.
    Thank you!

  3. I've got this on the tbr pile so I skipped to the grade. YEAH! - 5/5. Must read this soon. :)

  4. ok, I had to skim this one, because I have yet to read it and shiver lOL

    i know, I know, Crazy! LOL


  5. Great review! I've had this one on my holds list at the library and they JUST called me to tell me it's in. I love Maggie's writing, too. Have you read her Faerie series? I think I liked Lament and Ballad even better than Shiver. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Linger... hopefully I can get to the library later today.

  6. Through out the whole book I laughed, I cried, I even anxious, scared for poor Sam. Maggie Stiefvater wrote this book beautifully with the most delicate words to describe every emotion and longing. Truly beautiful. Lately everything is about Vampires and I'm glad to see some werewolves out there (I'm a werewolf person myself per say...) If you enjoyed Twilight, I'm sure you'll fall in love with this book just as much. Heck, I like this book even more.


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