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Review: The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

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The Shuddering

Ania Ahlborn

When a final reunion at a family cabin, tucked deep in the woods of Colorado finally comes to fruition after many years of busy schedules and excuses, not only do the old and new friends have harmful secrets, the woods do too.

Ania Ahlborn’s The Shuddering is one of ultimate horror. Three childhood friends, Jane, her twin brother Ryan and his friend Saywer have a long and rich past. Jane and Saywer were high school sweethearts; a love that never ended in their hearts, only in their adulthood choices. The choices like college and careers and relationships have pushed these two friends and once lovers apart. Ryan is the only thread holding them together still, and he knows that they both still hold a flame for each other. Ryan, the adventurer and businessman, the type of guy who makes anyone feel inadequate because he just looks so dang good and is confident in his own skin. He has made a model of himself, running a business, selling it and now, he’s on his way out of the country to start a new venture. But before he leaves, he wants one last trip with his sister and his best friend up at the cabin, where they at least, shared so many good times.

Only thing, Saywer has a girlfriend, April, and more than that, together, Sawyer and April hold a little secret that Ryan doesn’t approve of, and Jane will be destroyed by. For comfort, Jane invites along her friend Lauren, who just so happens to find an immediate spark with Ryan. Even Ryan, the perpetual bachelor, thinks he has found something special, finally, in his sister’s friend.

Unfortunately something lurks in the woods, more deadly and destructive than all the time lost between the old friends, and the new and everyone in the cabin will have to face a nightmare they couldn’t have imagined.

The Shuddering does an amazing job of creating characters that are immediately likable, so I was instantly invested, and also filled with dread. And of course, there’s a dog. (I hate dogs in horror! Why do you do that to us!) Even though Ryan is the typical good looking, wise cracking, self-assured type, his genuine nature and gentility comes across when he is with his twin, Jane. He truly cares for her, and is worried about her, knocking that stereotype for a loop that gives us a much more mature and realistic version of such a man. In fact, he cares for his friend too; knowing that the love he has for his sister has never faded or died and that the recent turn of events is not an excuse to throw in the towel and shut out his feelings.

Love is the whole reason that drives Ryan to make sure this last hurrah happens. Love is what drives April to come along when she doesn’t even truly like snow or skiing. Love is what captures Lauren by pleasant surprise when she finally meets her friend’s brother. Love is what makes this novel so dang dark! Truly, the story has too many surprises and twists, so those will stay out and this review will be a bit shortened for that. What can be said is that the story reads quickly, mostly because you just want to find out what the heck is going to happen to these wonderful people, it’s like pulling off a band aid, just get it over with. There is one interlude that does nothing for the story, but it’s understandable that things should be shown in threes, so its inclusion makes sense. Overall, The shuddering left me feeling exhausted, as if I too have trudged through the freezing cold snow and fought for my life for hours on end with little sleep. My heart broke for each character, especially Ryan. The end, well, it really makes you wish people watched and read more horror. The signs are there people!!

This is a highly recommended horror novel, with a great story of persistence, what-ifs and passion inside.

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