Alone Is a Perfect Ten!

5Q 5P J S NA

Balog, Cyn. Alone. Sourcebooks Fire, November 2017. 288p. $17.99. 978-1-4926-5547-3.

When her mother inherits the Bismarck-Chisholm Home, a creepy “murder” mansion on Solitude Mountain, Seda is happy to escape Boston and appointments with her shrink. Her family spends the summer in the crumbling old house, but dad leaves after her parents fight. As days become weeks, Seda loses track of time and soon, the first snowfall of the year is upon them. Now, she worries they will be snowbound in the dilapidated mansion all winter. The voice in her head, her dead twin Sawyer, is becoming more vocal. Stranded teenagers appear on their doorstep just before the worst of the storm. Her mother is overjoyed to see company, but Seda worries something bad is going to happen. She knows that Sawyer will ruin things, and she knows how. Solitude Mountain is the perfect place for murder. No one will hear the screams. There is no phone reception and the storm will cut them off from rescue.

Seda is a perfect choice for a horror narrator. She is unreliable and immediately tells readers that she is crazy. As the story progresses, Seda becomes terrified. She does not trust her mother, the new arrivals, Sawyer, or herself. Someone is a killer. Seda’s questionable mental state is the perfect set-up; even careful readers will be caught off guard by twists and unexpected but divine surprises. This first-rate thriller delivers everything a thriller should, and adds more. With a wink and a nod to Stephen King’s The Shining, Balog provides a shocker for the young adult crowd.—Pamela Thompson.

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