Title: Alone by Cyn Balog
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
This must-read for lovers of Stephen King’s The Shining will leave readers breathless as Seda and her family find themselves at the mercy of a murderer in an isolated and snowbound hotel. Get ready for what Kirkus calls “A bloody, wonderfully creepy scare ride.”
When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.
As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.
Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…
Set in an isolated and disquieting mansion during a snowstorm, Alone by Cyn Balog is a suspense-laden young adult mystery that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
Seda Helm is not at all pleased by her mom’s decision to remain in the creepy home she inherited. Despite her plans to sell it, she keeps rejecting offers for the onetime hotel turned murder mystery mansion. Cut off from the outside world due to no cell service, internet or landline, no one has heard from Seda’s dad since he abandoned the family months earlier due to his frustration with his wife. Seda’s much younger siblings still take great delight in the rundown mansion, but Seda is more than ready to return to Boston. When a group of teenagers are stranded at the decrepit home during a blizzard, Seda’s mother stages an elaborate murder mystery scavenger hunt that takes a deadly turn.
Seda is a bit of an unreliable narrator who spends a lot of time in her own head. She is great with her younger siblings despite the fact she feels a little overlooked by her parents. The longer she and the rest of her family remain at the mansion, the darker Seda’s thoughts become. She also misses her dad and she is growing increasingly irritated with her mom’s refusal to return to Boston.
When the teenagers find themselves stranded following a minor car accident, Seda reluctantly allows them to remain on the property as long as they stay out of sight of her mother. The group’s leader, Heath, ignores the edict and her mom ends up not only welcoming the teens with open arms, she convinces them to take part in a clever murder mystery. Seda is initially a reluctant participant in the game, but since she is paired up with the very attractive Heath, she eventually becomes more invested as they figure out what the clues mean. Slowly but surely, the hunt becomes more sinister and after she and Heath make a startling discovery, Seda makes a shocking admission.
Although a little slow paced in the beginning, Alone is an engaging mystery that readers of all ages will enjoy. The storyline is entertaining and the characters are interesting. Although observant readers will most likely pick up on few subtle clues that hint at some of the upcoming plot twists, Cyn Balog brings the novel to an absolutely jaw-dropping conclusion that will take readers completely by surprise.