Skip to main content

Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

I remember thinking nothing could top Shiver and then being introduced to Cole St. Clair in Linger and realizing Maggie Stiefvater had several more tricks left in her bag. Then Cole and Isabel proceeded to go for each other's throats and I forgot to worry at all. I loved them so much, though, that the continuation of their storyline was perhaps my biggest problem with Forever—the "conclusion" to the "trilogy." The two of them were just left hanging. And because at that point I really felt like Sam and Grace's story was winding down just as Cole and Isabel's was ramping up, I had a hard time with the wide open, barn door left swinging in the wind ending they were given. The funny thing is that I desperately wanted more but really didn't give any thought to the possibility of her writing more. That ship had sailed, we'd all moved on to killer water horses and dead Welsh kings. Which is why when the news hit that there would in fact be a companion novel to the Shiver trilogy and that it would clue us in on what was going down with our favorite emotional assassins, well, that my friends was a good day.

Cole St. Clair is back from the dead and better than ever. He's landed in L.A. and is slated to record his new record as part of a reality webseries with the notorious Baby North—a Hollywood producer known for destroying her subjects as a matter of course. But that's not why he's really in L.A. Not really. Cole is there because that's where Isabel Culpeper is. And in Cole's book, Isabel is pretty much the only thing worth pursuing. If he can revive his music career and make a killer album along the way, so much the better. But Isabel is supremely less than thrilled to see the former NARKOTIKA rocker darken her doorstep. That is to say, it is achingly good to see him. But everything about Cole has spelled nothing but trouble for Isabel, especially his addictive tendencies, be they for drugs, women, or turning into a big, bad wolf whenever the notion (or temperature) takes him. And so begins this epic dance between the two unhappiest people in L.A. Isabel refuses to be drawn into the glitzy hell that is Cole's life, and Cole refuses to be put off his dogged pursuit of the one girl he can be himself with. And as they dance, they're forced to step around Cole's former bandmates (both alive and dead), the new ones Baby North foists upon him, and the last dying gasps of Isabel's parents' marriage. The question is whether the whole cast and crew of the Cole & Isabel show will drag them under or whether they'll find a way to be. Together.
What I had earned was a trophy for generalized disinterest. It felt as if it had taken all of my energy to be so limply disengaged.

As I pulled aside the linen curtain to the back room, I heard the front door open again. If it was Christina returning to make a second effort at my leggings, I was going to be forced to get loud, and I didn't like getting loud.

But it wasn't Christina I heard at the front of the store.

Instead, a very familiar voice said, "No, no, I'm looking for something very particular. Oh, wait, I just saw it."

I turned around.

Cole St. Clair smiled lazily at me.

I gave so many damns at once that it actually hurt.
This is the passage that started me smiling, and I really did not stop until several hours after closing the book. If ever a pair of ruthless protagonists launched a full-scale assault on my emotions, Cole & Isabel are the ones. And just as I was hoping it would be, it was so crazy good to be back in their presence and to just listen to them snipe at each other and put an icily blank (Isabel) or dazzlingly jaded (Cole) face on things. The bright and shameless L.A. setting proved to be such a solid change-up for Stiefvater and the rest of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Gone are the freezing temperatures, wooded forests, and quiet ennui of Minnesota. Bring on the baking sun and the sand and the concrete jungle that barely masks too many emotions, too much energy and life being shoved and sculpted into ill-fitting, empty boxes. They are both so strong in this book, Cole & Isabel. The signature alternating POV chapters sing with the distilled and chilled 100-proof vodka that runs in their veins in the place of warm blood. What's more, every side character worked for me, from Isabel's psychotically domestic cousin Sofia to Cole's clear-eyed ex-bass player Jeremy and his hilariously deadpan driver Leon. It was good to be somewhere new with new faces and new threats. The entire paranormal side of this series was notably dialed down in favor of the more human element. Sometimes Cole is a wolf. Sometimes he chooses to become one in lieu of shooting some other form of oblivion up his arm. Sometimes these two facts make Isabel want to murder someone. Preferably him. And that's it. These things are real. But more real, more tantalizing, is the possibility that if they could each just stop killing themselves trying to prove they don't give a damn—just for a minute—they might find a space in which the pain is held at bay. And the hope of that minute, that swoony, devastating minute of peace that could turn into two minutes and then an hour and then a kind of life worth something? That's worth reading.

Buy

Comments

  1. I enjoyed this one so much. Their masks really do hold them back, but they're too afraid to give them up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How do you do it, woman? How do you make we want to buy all the things?


    Can I tell you I don't remember the last time I read a Shiver sequel? I think I ended up finishing Linger and never got around to Forever and I don't remember Cole and Isabel and now I want to KNOW them. I want to read this book and devour because I think I will love it. That it will satiate me because it impressed me.


    You single-handedly thwart my attempts to protect my bank account from bookish conquests. -_-

    ReplyDelete
  3. Exactly. The fact that they cannot be stopped individually (but that they're stronger together) is one of my favorite things about them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. LOL.


    You definitely need to know these two, Mara.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your review reminds me why I loved Isabel and Cole so much in the earlier books -- all that snippiness was the perfect foil to Grace and Sam's true love contentedness.

    Blast it. Now I *really* want this book.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That was the lovely thing. Rediscovering my feelings for them. They were strong! And it's been just long enough that it was a pretty sweet treat being with them again.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Review | More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

My online book group does a Secret Santa exchange every year, and this last year mine knocked it out of the park. She sent me a copy of Brigid Kemmerer's Letters to the Lost along with the most creative accompanying letter and series of clues and mementos tied to a fictional relationship not even wholly of this world. It tied in perfectly with the book and, once I read it, her creativity and extra mile effort meant that much more. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and immediately sought out the companion book featuring Declan's enigmatic best friend Rev. More Than We Can Tell begins shortly after the events of Letters to the Lost and, while Declan and Juliet are in the story, it focuses primarily on Rev and a new character named Emma Blue. I was already half in love with Rev Fletcher from the glimpses we get of him in the first book, so it was in no way surprising that I fell into his story without a hitch. This book can definitely be read as a standalone, though I think it is e…

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway | Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long

I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for this first novel in Julie Anne Long's new historical series―The Palace of Rogues. I found my way to Ms. Long's writing in a bit of a piecemeal fashion. Her long-running Pennyroyal Green series is widely beloved and records the various and sundry escapades of the always-scheming, never repentant Eversea and Redmond families. Really, the series is worth the price of admission for the hilarious (and ever-evolving) "Ballad of Colin Eversea" alone (though Colin's is not actually my favorite book). But I've come to believe that this sweeping eleven-book series has something for every reader. You just have to dip your toes in enough times to find your favorites. And once you do, they will become instant and confirmed comfort reads. Spoiler alert: mine are It Happened One Midnightand What I Did for a Duke. I'm sorry, Colin, but the Duke of Falconbridge, you are not. You'll be just fine, though. Madeleine ha…

Illustrated Pretties

I can't resist with these three. I love a good illustrated cover so much, and these three are not only just beautiful but include a couple of delicious retellings, a debut novel, and at least three young women who sound as fierce and determined and real as I could hope for on this International Women's Day. Put them on your calendars. I'm feeling the good feelings.

The Guinevere Deceptionby Kiersten White
This cover, you guys. This cover . . . I love it so much. And I haven't read a good Arthurian retelling in far too long. In this version, Guinevere is not at all what she seems. Summoned by Merlin to keep Arthur safe, she is a changeling who gives everything up to protect Camelot. GOOD YES GOOD.
Due out November 5th

Wicked Foxby Kat Cho
Set in modern day Seoul, this debut features a young woman who is actually an ancient being that must devour the souls of men in order to survive. Matters are significantly complicated when she saves a young man's life and thereby l…