Study Guide

Shiver Setting

By Maggie Stiefvater


Have Mercy. No, Really. Take It.

Grace lives in the fictional town of Mercy Falls, Minnesota. And boy, is it dullsville. For the residents of Mercy Falls, a trip to Duluth is a big deal. (We're sure Duluth is lovely, but be honest: how many times have you said 'Man, I really want to go to Duluth?!' Show of hands? Anybody? Bueller?)

Mercy Falls serves to emphasize the doldrums of human existence. How boring it must be to not have wolfy senses, to not prance around the woods all wolfy and free. On a trip into town, Grace says, “The shops, all shades of brown and gray, seemed even more brown and gray under the leaden sky” (32.28). Wow, in case the boring life of a human didn't seem humdrum enough already, it sure does now.

We Need Boundaries

One of the major characteristics of Mercy Falls is the immense Boundary Wood, where the wolves live. When Grace heads into the woods to Beck's house, she says, “I hadn't realized how far the wood stretched” (24.8). Grace could say the same thing about the werewolves. Werewolves and people don't exactly get along. The Boundary Wood represents the, well, boundary (synonyms: barrier, line, fence, big honking wall) between humans and wolves. The wolves are mysterious and secretive, and their relationships are super-complicated. As Grace (and we, as readers) learns about the wolves, it's like exploring a vast forest. There's danger, beauty, and unidentifiable animal droppings. By the end of the book, we feel we know the wolves pretty well, but seeing how big the forest is (and the fact that there are two sequels) we have a feeling there's a lot more to discover.