Linger - Maggie Stiefvater Actual Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Linger is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy and considering how impressed I was with the first book, I was dying to continue with the series! So I bet you're wondering if the sequel fell victim to the dreaded 'second-book syndrome' or if the goddess that is Maggie Stiefvater managed to avoid that altogether and impress me even more. Well, let's have a look shall we?

I have to apologize in advance here because this next paragraph will be on the vague-side but I want to avoid any major spoilers for the series. Ok. So Linger opens up with Grace and Sam, coming to terms with the big changes that went down for Sam at the end of Shiver. Beyond that though, there are some not-so-subtle hints that there's something going on with Grace as well. I remember reading reviews where people complained that Grace's problem was too obvious but here's my take on it: I think it was supposed to be obvious. We were meant to guess what was up with Grace's predicament before she did. It seems clear to me that Stiefvater wrote it that way. The true mystery here is the 'when?' and the 'HOW?!'. To me, that was just as engaging as anything because it opens up a whole other issue with the Wolves - not to mention the clear heartbreak that will no doubt ensue...when things finally hit the fan ...

After reading the synopsis for Linger, I was worried that a love triangle might have been looming here but Stiefvater deftly avoided that predictable outcome. Instead, she introduces two more POVs, one for Isabel, a character we met and that I grew to LOVE in Shiver. Win. Her friendship with Grace was unexpected but it's also like the best thing ever. We also get introduced to a new character: Cole. Cole isn't what you'd expect going in and as the story progresses, he managed to keep surprising me. Needless to say, I adored the new POVs - I felt as though they very much added to the story and to the whole family within The Pack. The four of them all have page time with one another and seeing how they interacted with each other, for better or for worse was seriously enjoyable.

Beyond that though, each character has their own rich background, issues and heartache to deal with, which only added depth to an already richly layered story, with it's inherent sadness and atmospheric setting. Sam as always, has the soul of a poet and he made me swoon with the random song lyrics that run wild in his mind and pop up at random intervals. We got to see a more rebellious side to Grace, which could have come off as petulant but instead, I felt that she was warranted in her behavior. Together, Sam and Grace are the best. The way that they know each other so intimately is beyond romantic. ♥

Moving on to Miss Maggie Stiefvater's glorious writing style. Well, in Linger she literally showed that she can make breading chicken strips sound like a work of art. I kid you not. Her prose reads like air: effortlessly. The pages seem to turn of their own accord. There's a sort of wild, primal tone to this series and with Stiefvater, not only can you see the things she describes with crystal clear precision, you can also feel them, smell them...hear them as if you were right.there. Sigh.

Needless to say that by the time that the ending rolled around, I was pretty much covered in FEELINGS, which made those last pages all the more poignant. Knowing how Linger was going to end didn't reduce its emotional impact - not by a long shot. I was left broken, but cautiously optimistic. I'm crossing my fingers that Forever will offer up a happy ending for all of my beloved characters. It seems unlikely, but I don't think that my heart will survive if I don't convince myself that a happy ending is possible.

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