It’s that time of the year again. The time the glacier gives up bodies.Shiver, Prologue opening
In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm.
When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, 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 no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones—missing. And inside the hotel, detailed instructions await them: an icebreaker game, 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 resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust. Because someone has gathered them there to find out the truth about Saskia…someone who will stop at nothing to get answers. And if Milla’s not careful, she could be the next to disappear…From Goodreads
Allie Reynolds’s killer snow-sport themed thriller is an exciting page turner. Anyone who loved Ruth Ware’s One by One should strongly consider picking this up. I sped through this book, ensnared by the action and savoring the chilly atmosphere. The characters, however, are what really distinguish this from One by One and other isolated snowy resort murder thrillers. They evoke powerful feelings – there’s no room for equivocating here – and the mangle of relationships amongst the group keep you on your toes. This is one of a select few books with this trope that left me feeling truly unsettled afterwards.
We can’t talk about this book without discussing the most controversial character – Saskia. She’s manipulative, passionate, and brutally competitive. In chapters alternating between when she went missing 10 years ago and the present day gathering in the lodge at Le Rocher, we work through the full complexity of her character and what happened so long ago. She’s a difficult character to deal with and honestly I’m not sure where I landed with her at the end. I can say, however, that I appreciated Allie’s work making Saskia such a deep, complex character for readers to wrangle with.
Then there’s Milla, the main character of the group. Her and Saskia are a lot alike in their competitive spirit, which is why they’re at once both kindred spirits and arch-enemies. Similar to Saskia I had complicated feelings towards Milla, which you’ll discover for yourself when you give this a read. Milla’s secret affections towards Saskia’s older brother, Curtis, further complicate the situation, and the small friend group that make up their competitive snowboarding circuit add yet more explosive tension. As a reader I loved the brother, Curtis. I found him sweet and empathized towards his struggle with grief, though I questioned some of his decisions in the ‘past’ chapters.
One small thing I disliked about this book here and there was how in your face Milla was on her feminist high horse. I’m all for a strong, opinionated female lead but there were multiple instances where she refuses help and quips back at the men pointing out how strong she is, paired with sweeping gendered statements etc. At first this was fine, even understandable given her competitive spirit, but at some point it became ‘ok we get it, you’re a strong woman who doesn’t need any help.’ The line blurs between a character who has deeply rooted feelings and the book making a statement.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable read on a trope that’s quite fun. The competitive snowboarding friend group, abandoned lodge, and creepy stalking killer are an exciting combination that will take a while to get old. A mix of delightfully volatile characters tipped this over the edge into a top read. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys isolated snowy killer mysteries and is down for a wild character development ride.