Published  June 18, 2013 by 47North T hey only come when it snows, and nobody ever gets away. A group of close friends gathers at a secluded...

Book Review || The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

Published June 18, 2013 by 47North

They only come when it snows, and nobody ever gets away.

A group of close friends gathers at a secluded cabin in the wintry mountains of Colorado for a final holiday hurrah. Instead, it may be their last stand. First a massive blizzard leaves them marooned. Then the more chilling realization: something is lurking in the woods, watching them, waiting...

Now a weekend of family, friends, and fun has turned into a test of love and loyalty in the face of inhuman horrors. The only hope for those huddled inside is to fight—tooth and nail, bullet and blade—for their lives. Otherwise, they'll end up like the monsters' other victims: bright pools of blood on glittering snow, screams lost in the vast mountains.

**First and foremost, my apologies for the radio silence. This is my first review since May. After five years of reviewing, 2023 has left me completely burnt out. With a year in at a job that requires me to interact with a computer screen all day, the thought of coming home and trying to pound the keys has been an entirely revolting and exhausting thought. In order to get back to the love of reading and reviewing, I'm reading whatever the hell I want and writing whatever comes to mind. 

The Shuddering is my first incursion into Ania Ahlborn's books. I tend to be underwhelmed by the more mainstream horror books so I went in with little to no expectations. The isolation cabin-in-the-woods trope is one of my favorites though and to add malevolent monsters to that? Sure, I'm in. 

This is one of those books that doesn't make you wait for the action. There's no build-up, no slow slide into the abyss. You don't get time to acclimate before the slicing and dicing begins. The first chapter is tension-filled and bloody, fulfilling that instant gratification we sometimes need as horror readers. Afterward, it's a balancing act between learning the characters and being introduced to randos that are simply there to be creature fodder. Even those characters managed to have depth. They have strengths and weaknesses that make them realistic and relatable. In the briefest of instances, you still get a good feel for who they are, before they stop being anything at all. 

I won't say that the entire book wasn't a complete cliche because it most certainly was. The characters are conflicted and have complicated relationships. They play stupid games and win stupid prizes. The setting has your typical isolationist feel with an incoming miring winter storm and the monsters have an amorphous embodiment...until they don't. Somehow though, the fact that this was a horror story completely took a backseat to the characters and their drama. 

I can't believe how emotionally involved I got with these characters. When I tell you I gasped at the heart wrench, yeah, it surprised me too. When the heck did these characters get so under my skin? I was completely and totally invested in the potential for them to conquer their insurmountable odds and it broke me when they didn't. It was so bleak and depressing and turned me completely inside out. It was so...unnecessary, and I think that's what made me love it all the more.