Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: young adult, supernatural
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls #4
Published: expected July 1 2014
Source: I was given this ARC at Book Expo America in exchange for a fair review. This in no way affects my rating or thoughts.
A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.
Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?
I mainlined the entire Mercy Falls series over five days. It was a great experience for me as a reader, and as someone who loves the chance to bask in pretty, unique prose. The first book, Shiver, was definitely the weakest of the lot for me, but author and wordsmith Maggie Stiefvater grows noticeably in her writing skills and storytelling over the course of her werewolf series. It was the rare series that started strong and, seemingly, ended even stronger.
Sinner, the fourth novel, is a clear reflection of that maturity and is the best book of the series. It's been a few years since Sam and Grace's story was concluded so satisfactorily. But now it's Isabel and Cole St. Clair's turn. Their turn at helming the story is brash and loud and full of quiet moments and beautiful writing. I was a fan of Shiver, loved both Linger and Forever, but this was the first five-star read of the series for me. It was a thoroughly engaging, heart-wrenching, beautifully-imagined and written experience featuring two amazingly well-drawn protagonists who challenge each other, fight, and love so fiercely.
If you're here looking for more story about Sam and Grace, or anything approaching their kind of relationship, or even really for a werewolf book in the vein of the previous novels, Sinner is not the book for you. Of all the series, Sinner is the least concerned with the characters wolfing out/trying to find reasons/a cure, and more with the characters themselves, in all their many faults and virtues. There are still werewolf tendencies and elements to the novel, but Cole and Isabel's main struggle is with themselves or with each other. Their relationship has never been easy, and Stiefvater will run you through an emotional wringer with these two yet again.
When I talk about authors capable of pretty prose, the list I can reference is rather short. Melina Marchetta, Laini Taylor, Franny Billingsley, Leslye Walton.... and Maggie Stiefvater. I've always enjoyed Maggie's style and way of wording things, but there were entire pages of Sinner that I wish I could memorize for how perfectly this author can describe and encapsulate so many feelings so well. This woman can write. She can write beautifully. She can write effectively. And she can do both at the same time. Her prose is one of my favorite things, but this is an author doesn't sacrifice the plot, or pacing, or characterization in order to focus one thing.
I loved reading from Cole and Isabel's POVs. I had a lot of feelings about their story when I finished, and I suspect those emotional will linger for a long time. While Forever left me feeling like everything was wrapped up and ended, Sinner makes me feel like I can never have enough time or books with these characters.