Shiver

SHIVER reunites a group of pro snowboarders who find themselves abandoned at a French Alp ski resort.

British-born author Allie Reynolds used her knowledge of being a pro-snowboarder for her locked-room (ski resort) mystery. This book is an homage to the snow (of course!), competitiveness, the dangers of Mother Nature and old crushes.

When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, one of France’s most exclusive ski resorts, she’s expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she’s never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.

Yet the moment Milla and the others arrive for the reunion, they can tell something is wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones: missing. And inside their ski lodge, an icebreaker game awaits, designed to draw out their secrets. A game meant to remind them of Saskia, the enigmatic sixth member of their group who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.

Stranded in the lodge, with a looming snowstorm making escape even more impossible, Milla realizes there’s no one on the mountain she can trust. Because someone will stop at nothing to find out the truth about Saskia. And if Milla’s not careful, she could be the next to disappear.

I’ve only been skiing once and it was a disaster, to say the least. However, I’m drawn to stories with snow, the coldness and being stranded with people you know (and despise). For a locked-room mystery, this setting is unique. Combine that with the whole snowboarding aspect, which I admittedly know nothing about, it makes for a different type of whodunit.

Author Allie Reynolds used her past experience as a pro snowboarder to describe the thrills and danger that comes along with jumping into the sky for competitions.

Allie uses snowboarding jargon in describing all of the dangerous twists, turns and leaps the characters endured during their competitive years. She also details the longing and want Milla has driving her to keep trying to beat Saskia … even when she shouldn’t.

We learn about her relationship with Saskia, who is the ultimate Frenemy. Yet, Milla is no innocent bystander. She fights back just as hard as Saskia gives.

The side love-interest story was another locked-room mystery trope we don’t see often. Milla’s crush of years ago is standing right in front of her again and this time, too much is on the line for her to walk away without investigating what’s there between her and … Ahhhh, I can’t tell you which guy he is! You have to read it for yourself.

Although it’s now warm April showers for a lot of us, grab yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and settle in on a Friday night with a warm blanket and SHIVER.

I rate SHIVER four out of five stars.

The Lost Village

Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this mystery chocked full of creepy folk lore, a cult and family loyalty.

Cold, grey abandoned towns leave behind a lot of questions. What happened to cause the demise? Was there one big event or lots of little incidents that forced the once-thriving area to die? Where did the people who resided in the town go?

In Camila Sten’s debut adult thriller, THE LOST VILLAGE, the 900 residents of Silvertj√§rn, Sweden disappeared in 1959. All that was left of the town were dirty dishes left on tables, schoolbooks open on the desks, a deceased woman tied to a pole and a newborn left behind in the nurse’s office.

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of an old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in the mysterious tragedy, and ever since the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people were left – a woman stoned to deah in the town center and an abandoned newborn – have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, strange things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice.

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth …

But what if it finds them first?

Come find out.

CONTENT WARNING: Heavy topics in THE LOST VILLAGE include depression, rape, abortion and attempted suicide.

Understanding mental illness is a major theme of the book. Sten stated in the book’s foreward she wanted to highlight female mental illness. “There are three female characters in the book suffering from mental illness, and they are all perceived and treated differently,” she said.

THE LOST VILLAGE, a mystery set in Silvertjärn, Sweden, is considered Scandinavian/Nordic noir.

Sten also weaved a fascinating cult storyline into THE LOST VILLAGE. I’m a sucker for cult plot and it was easy to see how the town, living on hopelessness, could easily become followers of a charismatic preacher. I would have liked for Sten to develop the leader more because we get small glimpses of him instead of an encompassing side plot into how he gathered his flock of followers.

The book has mixed reviews because while it has been compared to a cross between Blair Witch Project and Midsommar, it’s not as “scary” as some readers would have liked.

The story kept me intrigued from the start and I was dying to know exactly what happened to the citizens. I loved the creepy setting, the coldness and the rain. Sten’s descriptions made way for the sense of impending doom throughout the book.

Often compared to Blair Witch Project and Midsommar, THE LOST VILLAGE kind of made me want to watch Blair Witch Project. I’ve never seen that movie before, but now that I know – spoiler alert! – the entire movie was just a fictional movie, meh… I have seen Midsommar and Florence Pugh was the BEST thing about that movie. However, I can see the similarities between those movies and this book.

I’ll stick with THE LOST VILLAGE instead.

I rate THE LOST VILLAGE 4 out of 5 stars.