Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: November 1st, 2017
Synopsis: 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…
Welcome to the Bismarck-Chisholm House—where murder is only the beginning of the fun! Stay in one of eighteen comfortable guest rooms. You’ll sleep like the dead. We guarantee it…
How bone-chillingly cool is that opening? If you think the premise sounds vaguely familiar, you’d be right. Alone pays homage to The Shining , even mentioning it during one scene, yet it has several unique twists of its own.
Seda is an unreliable narrator and her actions kept me off guard throughout the story. She’s isolated in a creepy rundown mansion that used to be a hotel that held themed murder mysteries for their guests. Except for a general store twenty miles away there’s no other contact with the outside world as they have no cell phone service or landline. And to top things off, the father, fed up with his wife’s insistence that the house only be sold to someone who will stay true to its history, deserts the family. After four months of this, Seda seemingly goes from a once popular sixteen-year-old girl, to a socially awkward one who has a difficult time with even the most basic conversations. Part of this is explained by the secret she’s been keeping from everyone for years. I’d be sympathizing with her one moment, and left scratching my head at her puzzling actions the next. Every time I thought I had a handle on who she was, something would happen and I’d be right back at the beginning. It was infuriating yet mesmerizing at the same time.
The rest of the characters didn’t stand out all that much, although I thought Seda’s younger siblings (two sets of twins), were adorable. The mother was a little out there and I wound up disliking her intensely. I thought her actions were selfish, neglectful and uncaring. She supposedly loved Seda and her siblings but aside from inventing entertaining games to keep them distracted, she seemed otherwise disengaged. The stranded teens pretty much fit the standard roles: romantic lead, mean girl, loner, etc. and didn’t add all that much until the end of the book.
The descriptive setting was the best part of the story. You can feel the eeriness and claustrophobic atmosphere creep off the pages and surround you. Each chapter begins with a heading that ties the crumbling ruin back to its heyday of being a popular hotel, which was an imaginative touch. The pace though, was extremely slow for about 70% of the book, and at times, I was ready to tear out my hair waiting for something, ANYTHING to happen! And then it finally did, and yikes! What a rollercoaster ride! There’s a huge twist at the end that I still can’t make up my mind as to whether I loved or hated it. Either way, I’m still thinking about it two days after I finished the book, which makes it a success in my mind.
While Alone didn’t quite live up to my admittedly high expectations, I still enjoyed it and I think it’s a good read for teens, especially this time of year. It’s creepy and unsettling and I guarantee the ending will give you goosebumps!