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Literature / Wolves of Mercy Falls Series

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Wolves of Mercy Falls is a book series written by Maggie Stiefvater which takes place in Mercy Falls, Minnesota.

As a child, Grace Brisbane was bitten by the wolves that live behind her house, but she is saved by a different wolf with mysterious yellow eyes. After that incident, Grace becomes obsessed with the wolves; more specifically, her yellow-eyed wolf.

The yellow-eyed wolf, however, lives a double life. During the winter, he is an animal wandering through the forest, but when summer arrives, Sam Roth and all the other wolves behind Grace's house turn human. One day in September, the two finally meet.

The first book, Shiver, was published in 2009. The second book, Linger, was published in July 2010. The conclusion, Forever, was released in July 2011. A fourth entry in the series Sinner, a continuation focusing on side characters Cole and Isabel was released in 2014.

Not to be confused with the 2012 film adaptation of the Michael Crichton thriller Shiver.

Tropes used in this series:

  • Abusive Parents: All of them. Sam's parents take the cake, but Grace's should've been put away for neglect long ago. Also Shelby's parents, and possibly the Culpepers as well.
  • Alpha Bitch: Isabel starts off as this, being the popular daughter of a lawyer. Her brother Jack seemingly dying and coming back as a werewolf puts her in the company of Sam and Grace and through some character development, turns her to an ally.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Shelby believes that she and Sam are destined to lead the pack. To that end, she seeks to remove anything and anyone keeping Sam away from her and turns on and kills Beck during the climatic aerial hunt in Forever.
  • Amoral Attorney: While we never see them in court, Beck and Mr. Culpeper are both lawyers who have done very questionable things. Culpeper advocates for the destruction of the wolves and shoots one on his property seemingly without a license in Linger. Beck attacked Sam as a child in order to adopt him and is actively making more werewolves.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The series has a rather... odd explanation for werewolf transformation. Once you're bitten, the transformation into a full-blown wolf is triggered by cold temperatures. (Living in a hot climate to stop this has no effect, since even a sudden blast of air conditioning can kick off the transformation.) But it's not this. In Shiver, one of the characters has not taken well to being bitten, and it is then discovered that perhaps bacterial meningitis could stop the transformation, seeing as elevated body temperature pre-transformation seemingly cured one of the characters. So yeah... injecting somebody with bacterial meningitis somehow helps rather than hinders.
  • Ascended Extra: Isabel and Cole went from being supporting protagonists to getting an entire book focusing on them.
  • Back for the Dead: Olivia, absent since the end of Shiver due to transforming into a wolf, is killed in the first chapter of Forever.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Cole, a playboy rockstar rolling in drugs and money. He also turns out to a fairly good chemist who determines the real reason why the werewolves transform and develops a serum to induce it on demand.
  • Broken Pedestal: Sam looks up to his adoptive father and mentor Beck, but that image unravels when he discovers that Beck was responsible for making him a werewolf in the first place and has been making more werewolves when he said he wouldn't subject anyone else to the curse. It later gets rebuilt as Sam discovers Beck's past and acknowledges him as a human being that makes mistakes.
  • Contrived Coincidence: So, wait, our new ally Officer Koenig just happens to have inherited a tract of land which is absolutely perfect for relocating the pack? Really?
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Shows up in Shiver in the form of a white-tailed deer. It appears in the middle of the road at exactly the wrong time, causing the crash that wrecks Grace's car. Both occupants survive, but with no way to keep Sam warm until help comes, he turns wolf for good. The characters are forced to try an incredibly dangerous plan to bring him back.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The mechanics for lycanthropy have fairly clear rules but no explanation in Shiver, but in Linger, Cole puts his blood under a microscope and determines that lycanthropy has a physical, if pseudo-scientific, cause. Werewolves transform as an immune response to a toxin, and such transformation can be induced with drugs.
  • Downer Ending: The end of Linger undoes everything the protagonists tried to accomplish in Shiver, only mixing it up by having Grace turn into the wolf.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The girl Shelby kills in the opening of Forever? Olivia, absent since the end of Shiver. We don't find out it's her until later.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Shiver is inconsistent with the werewolf mechanics of the entire series. Shelby bites Grace enough to send her to the hospital, but it doesn't turn her into a wolf while two other people are bitten and turn. While this can be explained by her being "cured" and thus immune several years before, in Linger Cole reinfects her by putting his saliva in a cut.
  • Eyes Are Mental: Several characters mention that some of the wolves' eyes are indescribably human, and can even recognize certain individuals.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Cole and Isabel in Forever.
  • Find the Cure!: The central conflict of Shiver, as Sam faces his last winter and will transform into a wolf forever due to his lycanthropy.
  • Foreshadowing: In Shiver, while Grace is buying a new car, a Ford Bronco, Sam jokes to Grace that if the car "hit a deer it would just hiccup and keep going". Much later the car does in fact hit a deer and breaks down. To make matters worse, without the car heater keeping Sam warm, he finally shifts permanently into a wolf but not before tearfully saying goodbye to Grace and Beck.
  • Follow the Leader: For The Twilight Saga, having a similar "angsty teenage girl falls in love with a boy who turns out to have a supernatural secret" plot.
  • Food Porn: The description of the candy shop in Shiver may make you drool.
  • Freudian Excuse: Subverted. Although readers are told that Shelby's past life was appalling (and heck, it must have been to create someone so spectacularly fucked-up) her backstory is never used to justify her Ax-Crazy deeds.
  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: Shelby loves being a werewolf and doesn't understand why Sam would want to give it up.
  • Genki Girl: Grace's friend Rachel is extremely bubbly.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Grace's parents. Her mom cares more about her art than her daughter essentially. In Forever, she claims this is because her parents made her life miserable by never letting her do anything she wanted.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Cole towards the end of Forever injects himself with his personally created serum shifting himself into his wolf form so that he may fight off Shelby giving Sam enough time to escape and lead the pack to safety from the aerial hunt, causing himself to end up getting shot after killing Shelby. He manages to survive though - just barely.
  • Hollywood California: Sinner shifts the setting from Minnesota to Los Angeles.
  • I Am the Band: Cole St. Clair in relation to NARKOTIKA. He's the one who jumps out on album covers, and he's most likely the one who leads his friends Jeremy and Victor into temptation.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of Shiver, Olivia chooses to try and live with lycanthropy rather than gamble on an incredibly risky cure.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: One-Word Title, and all titles of each book, end in "-er". Shiver, Linger, Forever, Sinner.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Many of the werewolves feel this way, Sam in particular.
  • The Immune: Grace was bitten by the wolves as a child but failed to transform to the confusion of Sam and Beck. A few weeks after the attack, Grace's parents left her in behind in a hot car and the heatstroke seemingly cured her lycanthropy. In Shiver, Shelby attacks her in the present but she still fails to transform. This immunity turns out to be Zig-Zagged in Linger as she is still has the toxin that triggers the transformations in the first place and falls ill because of it. Cole then reinfects her to save her life and triggers her transformation, succeeding where Shelby didn't.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: In Shiver, Grace locks herself and Sam out of her car while the keys are still hanging in the ignition. Played for Drama as it is rapidly getting colder and Sam needs to warm up and fast.
  • Last-Name Basis: Geoffrey Beck, the lawyer who owns the home the where werewolves live in the summer and leads the pack, simply goes by Beck.
  • Love at First Sight: Grace falls in love with Sam, or rather, his wolf form, after he saves her from the rest of the pack as a child but doesn't recognize him as a human. Sam similarly pines for her over the next few years.
  • Love Makes You Evil: While Shelby was already a few wolves short of a full pack before meeting Sam, her belief that she and Sam were destined to be mates drives her to commit violence against anyone she perceives as taking Sam away from her.
  • Love Triangle: A small one with Grace/Sam/Shelby. Grace/Sam/Isabel and Cole/Isabel/Sam are both teased — most overtly with an Indirect Kiss between Sam and Isabel at the beginning of Linger — but neither goes anywhere.
  • Low Fantasy: Sinner especially has little to do with the werewolf aspect at all.
  • Mad Scientist: Cole in Forever, extending to making himself a guinea pig for his own experiments.
  • The Mind Is A Play Thing Of The Body: The werewolves effectively lose all memories of who they were as humans and receive the minds of wolves when they transform. This is eventually permanent.
  • Mundane Utility: A side character from Germany mentions that peasants sought out the werewolf curse into order to survive harsh winters.
  • Myspeld Rökband: Cole St. Clair is a member of NARKOTIKA. Word of God states that it's in all caps, because "IT'S LOUDER THAT WAY."
  • Naked First Impression:
    • Grace and Sam's first proper meeting in Shiver starts with him naked on Grace's back porch. Made less sexy with a bullet wound in his shoulder.
    • While investigating the Culpeper house, Sam runs into Jack, recently turned back and making a sandwich.
    • Isabel and Cole in Linger. He's looking for the bathroom.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of Linger, it turns out lycanthropy is actually the body's (super)natural defense mechanism against a toxin- spread by the bites- that kills the victim slowly. "Curing" the shifts merely causes the toxin to kill the victim faster.
  • Noble Wolf: Out of the entire pack, Sam retains the most humanity as a wolf, stopping them from eating Grace as a child, and is a kind-hearted and sincere person. Beck refers to Sam as "the best of us."
  • One-Word Title: Each of the four books of the series:
    • Shiver
    • Linger
    • Forever
    • Sinner
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The wolves receive their ability when they are bitten by a person already infected with the werewolf disease. They turn into and act like normal wolves, though some human thoughts and memories linger. Unlike traditional werewolves, they turn into wolves only during the winter; in warm weather they are normal human beings. The older they get however, the longer they stay wolves, until finally one summer they don't change back at all. And they can't just move south; if they do they only become more sensitive to temperature change, to the point where even the slightest change in temperature can cause them to shift. The first book Shiver is about a boy and a girl who try to find a way to fight this. In the sequel Linger, we find out that the cure from the first book might not be a cure at all — and that the reason they change into wolves might have more to do with brain chemistry than the weather.
  • Power Incontinence: Cole St. Clair in Linger can't stay a wolf for more than a few days due to heavy use of drugs affecting his brain chemistry.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Shelby feels this way about being a wolf.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Before finding Sam, Beck lost his wife to cancer. He then became fixated on Sam due to his Supernatural Gold Eyes and attacked him to get the child he never had.
  • Rewrite: Word of God says that the third book was finished, then completely rewritten from scratch because the author wasn't happy with it. Some problems resulted.
  • Rich Bitch: Isabel. Until she gets Character Development, anyway.
  • The Rock Star: Cole Saint Clair, former lead singer of NARKOTIKA, an in universe popular rock band. He's loud and abrasive, and utterly charmed by himself. Flashbacks make it clear he had that "rolling in girls and money" thing down pat.
  • Savage Wolf: From the town's perspective, the wolves have no fear of humans and have attacked people in the past. The werewolves have no control over their actions as wolves, and while they are not malevolent by nature, their instincts and personalities as humans may make them more aggressive. Sam outright states that being a wolf removes many inhibitions, turning bad people into worse wolves. Shelby embodies this most as a brutish, violent wolf.
    • As a child, Grace got dragged out of her backyard swingset and into the woods by the pack, and they were going to eat her if not for Sam's intervention..
    • Sam was attacked by wolves boarding the school bus in suburban Duluth.
  • Shadow Archetype: Cole to Sam, as The Lancer sub-type.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: After a number of winters, werewolves stop transforming back into humans and stay wolves for the rest of their lives, roughly the natural lifespan of a normal wolf. In Shiver, Beck and Sam are both facing their last winters.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Sam and Grace only have eyes for each other.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Sam, even if he was a wolf at the time, and Shelby gets like this with Sam, too. To be absolutely fair, Sam has no control over his actions as a wolf, and he never goes looking for her when he's human.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Near the end of Shiver, the protagonists determine that lycanthropy may be curable through elevating the victim's internal body heat to extreme levels, comparable to a massive fever. They attempt to do this by injecting two victims with bacterial meningitis Results? Mixed. One character is cured, the other dies from the meningitis.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Sam has a pair of golden eyes like a wolf in both forms and is a werewolf. Subverted as he was born with them as a totally normal boy. However, Beck targeted him for conversion because of them, believing he was born to be a werewolf.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Sam's eyes are naturally yellow. Upon first meeting Grace and Olivia at the bookstore, he explains them as being contacts to deflect attention.
  • Telepathy: The werewolves can't speak English as wolves, but instead share thoughts as images between each other. They can also do this to an extent in human form.
  • Their First Time: Sam and Grace in Shiver.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Sam cites this as the reason why the wolves never sought medical help for their condition and take great legal and physical pains to conceal their existence. However, a side character travels to Minneapolis in Forever and tells the doctors at a mental hospital that he transforms into a wolf ... and returns with anti-psychotics as they didn't take him literally.
  • Tsundere: Isabel. She's almost always in tsun-mode but she does have her occasional dere moments,
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: In Shiver the chapters come with the current temperature of area.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Implied to have happened with Jack, as his body was mentioned to have disappeared from the morgue after being attacked by wolves.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Mr. Culpeper is a lawyer who advocates for the destruction of the wolves living in the woods around Mercy Falls, however, the wolves have attacked people in the past and recently seemingly killed his son.
    • Beck creates more werewolves despite promising to not subject others to the curse because it is his last winter and he needs people take care of the pack after he's gone.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In Shiver, three teenagers are infected with lycanthropy by Beck. One turns out to be Cole, the second his friend Victor, but the third never shows up again.
    • In Forever, chapter fifty-eight: Did Isabel ask Cole in?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Isabel to Sam in Linger, for ignoring the fact that Grace is dying so as not to ruin their "Dream life".
    • And again in Forever, for still not doing anything about it even after Grace turns wolf.
    • In Sinner, Victor's sister calls out Cole for partying and participating in a reality show while Victor is missing. Cole says Victor's still in rehab but in reality was killed by Mr. Culpeper in Linger.
  • What Year Is This?: After being patched up from his gunshot wound, Sam needs to reorient himself back in the human world. He believes it to be spring and that he would soon be joined by the rest of the pack as well as have the rest of the summer to spend with Grace, only to find out it's September.
  • White Wolves Are Special: Olivia turns into a white wolf and is described as beautiful and graceful as one. However, Shelby also turns into a white wolf and is far more brutish and violent.
  • Would Hurt a Child: While less in control of their faculties, the wolf pack attacked Grace with the intention of eating her.
    • Beck as it turns out targeted and attacked Sam when he was in elementary school, biting him as a wolf as Sam boarded the school bus.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Rachel displays this in Forever, refusing to come near Sam (who is a suspected murderer), and basically displaying more sense than any girl in a horror movie ever has...too bad she's in a teen romance book, and not the next Friday the 13th.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Werewolves suffer their condition for a number of years until they can't transform back, and afterwards live as long as a normal wolf's lifespan.

Alternative Title(s): Shiver, Forever, Linger