Review of Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)Sinner
By: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: July 1st 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

An advanced copy was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times 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?

The Story:
I read the Wolves of Mercy Falls series prior to my starting the blog so I’ve not reviewed them but I enjoyed them immensely. They were my gateway to all things Maggie Stiefvater and since reading Shiver I had her on my read everything list. Though it had been years since I last read about these characters it was surprisingly easy to remember what had happened and who I was reading about. Like everyone else I thought that Forever was the last I’d see of this world so of course hearing this book focused on Cole and Isabel was in the works I was thrilled. First and foremost, I was not disappointed in this addition to the series (though I will forever wish they had released a cover that matched the originals).  To me, this book felt like an ode to the fans and read much more like a contemporary than a paranormal.

If you’ve read prior three novels you know they center on humans transforming into wolves. This was such a small element in this story it felt more an inconvenience than anything. Instead, this story focused on the everyday lives of Isabel and Cole, alternating between their point of views.

There was little to no action in Sinner and most of the pages were filled with the characters thinking, growing or interacting. We watch as Cole picked up the pieces of his life and struggle to make them all correlate into his new drug free life. Isabel struggled with her parent’s marriage falling apart and the loss of her brother. Though not a lot happened the pacing still felt fairly fast and if you’ve read Stiefvater’s work before you know her writing is always beautiful.

The Characters:
Of course, the characters were where Maggie’s writing shone. I absolutely loved her character’s dialog and the banter between them. She mastered, yet again, making these characters even more real and unique with each chapter and glimpse into who they are past the façade.

Cole and Isabel are both cloaked in a thick outer layer and a multitude of defenses. On the outside, they are perfectly executed clichés of what a musician and beautiful, tall, blond are excepted to be like. Yet below the snark you see glimpses of exquisite unique bits of their hearts and souls- even the brutal truths so tightly under wraps. Watching these layers fall away and the two characters struggling to come to terms with themselves and each other was really enjoyable.

Not only were the two main characters wonderfully done but I adored the side characters. You can tell that Stiefvater doesn’t consider her surrounding characters as throw aways or simply there to push the main characters where they need to go. It’s evident that she has breathed life into them and spends time making them feel whole. Perfect example- Cole and Isabel themselves started as secondary characters.

Final Thoughts:
Sinner was 100% character driven and relies on the fact that you love the characters and are invested in their lives. If you can’t find that affection or connection you might be disappointed in the lack of paranormal elements or action scenes.


  1. says

    Great review! I’ve read and enjoyed all of Maggie Stiefvater’s other books, but I have yet to read the Shiver trilogy. I should get on that.

    • says

      Oh, I hope you enjoy the Mercy Falls books when you get around to them. I believe I’ve read everything Stiefvater has out and have enjoyed them all 🙂

  2. says

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the Shiver series, but did relatively enjoy it (about 2.5-3 stars in general) so I think I might pick this up sometime later this year because I’m not sure I’ll love it all the much to rush to grab a copy.

    Lovely review, Kristen! <33

    • says

      I read these prior to my blogging ‘career’ so I was reading them solely for enjoyment. I enjoyed them all but the last book was the weakest. For me, I love Stiefvater’s writing so I’m happy to read about anything she writes 🙂 When you get around to Sinner I hope you do enjoy it.

  3. says

    I haven’t read the Shiver series yet, so I’m wondering if this can be read as a stand alone of sorts or it’ll be better that I wait and read it after squeezing the Shiver series somewhere in my reading schedule?
    Anyways, fantastic review, Kristen!

    • says

      We talked on Twitter but I do think you’d enjoy it more with reading the other books first though that isn’t necessary to follow the story in Sinner.

  4. says

    Aw, yay for loving the characters. <3 Sigh. I have yet to read the Shiver books (A) BUT SOON. As I am dying to read them. Just need the time. Hmph. Hopefully very soon, as I'm getting Sinner as well 🙂 I'm glad you mostly loved it Kristen. <3 Amazing review 🙂

    • says

      I felt that this and the Faery books have a different feel than Maggie’s other work. I’ll be so interested to hear what you think of these Carina!

  5. says

    Yay another Wolves of Mercy Falls fan! I def feel like the black sheep with that one. I read it a long time ago but I really enjoyed them more than most it seems. Anyways, I was also very happy with this one and loved learning more about Cole he was one of my fav characters in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series – even though I remember laughing at his sucky lyrics baha. And yeah this one was barely paranormal. Definitely more like a contemporary romance if you ask me. Glad you liked it too, Kristen! 🙂

    • says

      I read it a long time ago and if I were to do a reread I’m sure I’d see a million things I’d not enjoy as much. But, they do have a special spot in my heart so this one just hit the right place for me. I can’t help but love Maggie’s writing and these characters really did make an impact on me. So happy we agree! 😀

    • says

      Yep, I recall lots of people not loving the end of that last book but I didn’t hate it as badly as others. If you do read these I hope you enjoy them. They have a very different feel than the rest of Maggie’s work.

  6. says

    I’m definitely excited about this one! One of the most important things in a book for me is definitely how character driven it is. As long as there are good relationships and lots of growth, I’m sure to love it. Great review Kristen!

  7. says

    Reading this right now. I only skimmed your review since I’m in the middle of it, but I will admit that it definitely feels very introspective with VERY little action. Not that the previous books were LOADED with action or anything, but I’m afraid I’ll be waiting and waiting and then get nothing in return. But if I’m being honest, I’m much more excited about Blue Lily.

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