Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater My Rating: 3.75 out of 5

*Buddy read with Lee @ Rally the Readers*

Sinner is the final installment in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, which was released 3 years after the original trilogy concluded. It centers on secondary characters Cole and Isabel exclusively, and is the first book in the series to be set outside of Mercy Falls Minnesota - specifically: California. Isabel moved to California after the events of Forever and here we find that Cole eventually follows suit. To find Isabel. To find a new life.

I wasn't sure what to expect going in to Sinner. I mean, I already knew that I'd taken to Isabel as soon as she was introduced in Shiver. I also know that since Cole hit the scene in Linger, I was just as fascinated with him as he obviously is with himself. I was looking forward to their characters taking the front seat here, instead of playing second fiddle to the obvious stars of the series before now: my beloved Sam and Grace. But as much as I was looking forward to a story focussing on Isabel and Cole, it also worried my. I was concerned that Sam and Grace absence would be too much . I was also wondering about how the series and storyline would work outside of Mercy Falls - without the wolf pack. The atmosphere and setting of this series are basically character all their own and I knew I'd feel their absence. But...I also know that Maggie Stiefvater's delicious writing style would likely swoop in and save the day like it always does.

And truth be told, I did miss Mercy Falls and the old gang quite a bit, but it was a new kind of fun to explore California through Cole and Isabel's eyes. Predictably, the setting is immaculately portrayed, just as Mercy Falls was. I could feel the oppressive heat, see the palm trees and hear the crowds. It was fun to witness Isabel being so utterly in her element, I relished in her bitchiness and sarcasm to no end. Every.detail of her new reality as imagined by Stiefvater perfectly fit the bill of how I imagined Isabel's life being - it was uncanny. As for Cole, well he's the real star of this offering and he certainly steals the show. Sure he'd gotten himself pretty much 'together' in Mercy Falls, but back in the big city, it isn't long until he's forced to face his demons...and the guy has a hell of a lot of demons.

Combined, Isabel and Cole make a volatile yet incredibly compelling couple. They're a recipe for disaster and a lot of the suspense came from wondering which one of them would implode, or explode, or if their combined issues would combust in an unholy fire that would lay waste to California. Since they'd never really made any concrete progress as an actual couple in the first three books, it was a fresh start for them in some respects - but with a lot of history in between them, the tension was high from the first pages. This made for a compulsively readable offering: I read it in 2 sittings, which surprised me since it was quite a bit thicker than the previous installments had been.

I can't say much more here without walking into spoiler territory but Sinner is a fitting companion novel to the original trilogy. I know it's meant as a sequel but I feel like Forever wrapped things up wonderfully on it's own. Sinner is a nice addition to the series, but whether you need to read it or not depends on how much love you have for these characters. I had a lot of fun with this one, and even though it didn't quite evoke the same emotions as Shiver, Linger and Forever did, I definitely recommend it for fans of the series - especially those fans who wanted MORE Isabel and Cole. Didn't we all?!

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket