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After her aunt and uncle die, Seda Helm is forced to move with her four siblings and parents to the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania. Living in a house that once used to be a murder mystery hotel is the least of her worries. When unexpected visitors plead to stay, Seda knows something bad is about to happen --- and she couldn’t be more right.

ALONE by Cyn Balog gives off creepy vibes right from the start. The brief blurbs of promotional items from the murder mystery hotel days give readers some much needed information about the history of the house. It was interesting to watch the story unfold, starting with the blurb at the beginning of each chapter. It paralleled nicely to the story’s structure, balancing out what was happening in the present to what happened in the past. That said, the introduction seemed to drag on further than necessary. The meat of the story didn't really begin until after halfway, which for a 300-page novel is unfortunate.

"Balog's writing is superb, weaving an intriguing and thrilling plot....The ending is fantastic, getting your heart pumping even after finishing the last page."

There were moments when I thought I knew the exact direction it would go in. However, Balog keeps readers completely on their toes. She constantly changes direction, moving the plot further away from ever becoming predictable. The twists were unexpected. ALONE quickly became a horror movie without the clichés, ready to scare readers at every turn.

The characters change their minds several times without explanation to their thinking, which is both realistic but annoying in its inconsistency. At first, I didn't really know what to make of Seda. There are so many layers to her character. Her strength to continue searching for normal in a sea of strange was commendable, but other characteristics like her stubbornness and her dislike for change made me a bit indifferent. I couldn't fully connect with Seda which left ALONE lacking. The reveal of her entire character is surprising, leaving the end an absolute wild ride. I adored that ALONE is about a girl who hears a voice inside her head as much as it was about the house she lived in. The house took center stage as if it were a character itself.

In one scene, Seda’s mother builds an epic scavenger hunt for her daughter’s birthday. The scavenger hunt of horrors was absolutely filled with genius. I've always wanted to participate in a murder mystery play and ALONE gives readers the chance to put the pieces together with the other characters. It was fun and extremely unique. The scavenger hunt is actually the highlight of the entire book. It's the draw that certainly turns the drab, gothic plot to a heart-racing, horrific read.

Balog’s writing is extremely fast-paced. Though there isn't much action until the second half of the book, ALONE reads like an action movie. Balog's writing is superb, weaving an intriguing and thrilling plot. She built a unique structure that piles on all the questions with absolutely no answers until the big reveal. This created a most original and heart-pounding ending that will give you a resolution you are not about to forget. The ending is fantastic, getting your heart pumping even after finishing the last page.

ALONE by Cyn Balog is perfect to read during a storm with all the lights off. The setup of the main plot does drag a bit, but when readers finally enter the main story, they are in for a real treat.

Reviewed by Jeanna Michel on December 13, 2017

by Cyn Balog