***This book as reviewed for Sourcebooks via Netgalley
Alone by Cyn Balog is one dark, creepy psychological thriller. Bismarck-Chisolm House, a grand old mansion on Solitude Mountain, was once a murder mystery mansion, but has fallen into severe disrepair. Seda and her family inherited the home upon the deaths of her aunt and uncle. They intended to spend summer vacation to get it ready for sale, but Seda’s mom decided that she would only be willing to sell to buyers who would keep the mansion as a murder mystery hotel.
Summer passes to fall with still no buyers, and storms snow them in, blocking the roads. An accident deposits a carload of teens at the mansion. To make the most things, Seda’s mom, a horror and mystery aficionado, decides to set up a murder mystery to pass the time. But there’s an extra guest only Seda is aware of- Sawyer, and Sawyer plays for keeps.
I loved Seda’s family. Her siblings are adorable. All four of them. Two sets of fraternal twins. So glad they weren’t identical! Talk about messed up. Dr Helm seemed a bit spacey though. Like, it seems the adult should notice psychopathic/sociopathic behaviour. Even high-functioning ones show aberrations. #justsayin
But, overall, the characters were well-drawn, with rich personality. Even the ‘mystery’ guest. You don’t see much interactions with Sawyer during most of the book, but those you do give a good idea of his personality. It’s great that the best ‘actor’ of all wasn’t even supposed to be one.
This was one creepy read, paying homage not just to Stephen King’s The Shining, which I’ve seen mentioned places before, but also to Hitchcock’s Psycho. The story seems to be going one way, then darts a different way, and back another way. Every time I thought I figured things out, something would happen that was quite unexpected. Looking back, though, clues to the final truth are scattered throughout. I loved the attention to detail with the mansion, and the backstories for the different rooms. I really don’t think I’d like to live in a home with all those spooky props. The symbolism with the snow globes was appropriate. They are as trapped on Solitude by the blizzard as the scenes in the snow globes. And all it takes is one person to upend the perfect little scene and send flurries of panic spinning around.
????? highly recommended for fans of horror and psychological thrillers