Sarah Carpenter lives in an isolated farmhouse in North Yorkshire and for the first time, after the death of her husband some years ago and her children, Louis and Kitty, leaving for university, she’s living alone. But she doesn’t consider herself lonely. She has two dogs, a wide network of friends and the support of her best friend, Sophie. When an old acquaintance, Aiden Beck, needs somewhere to stay for a while, Sarah’s cottage seems ideal; and renewing her relationship with Aiden gives her a reason to smile again. It’s supposed to be temporary, but not everyone is comfortable with the arrangement: her children are wary of his motives, and Will Brewer, an old friend of her son’s, seems to have taken it upon himself to check up on Sarah at every opportunity. Even Sophie has grown remote and distant.
First of all, don’t read the complete blurb. There’s a spoiler of something that happens in the last 20% of the book. I removed it from here.
I loved Into the Darkest Corner when I read it a few years ago. It was suspenseful and scary and I couldn’t wait to read more books by Elizabeth Haynes. Never Alone was equally addictive and super fast to read, but in my opinion, the plot was not as superb as in that one.
Coincidentally, I had the same feeling with I See You by Clare Mackintosh
. I loved her previous novel as well and found this year’s book a quick, interesting read, but it didn’t manage to impress me as the other one had. Oddly enough, both books are pretty similar! They even have the same “anonymous” short narration about some character watching people and thinking creepy stuff.
Anyway, the story was easy to follow, although I have to say I found some of the events pretty random, especially where Will was concerned. What’s this book about? Sarah Carpenter is a forty-something-year-old woman whose husband died in a car accident a few years ago and is struggling with money. When an old flame comes back to the UK searching for a place to stay, Sarah offers her next-door cottage. But Aiden is hiding something, or so it seems. And her best friend Sophie is suddenly keeping secrets from her. And her son still doesn’t want to talk to her… but why?
Never Alone was intriguing and creepy, as the author manages to make you feel like Sarah herself: like you’re being watched. I couldn’t wait to know what happened next. I have to say, I didn’t expect this book to be so “racy”, if you know what I mean. Because there are, indeed, some sexy scenes, but don’t worry, it’s not Fifty Shades material (which is definitely a good thing because I find erotica super boring to read. I want murders and psycho people, not masks and whips, thank you very much.)
Basically, Never Alone did everything well up until the ending, where I was left quite disappointed. I don’t know if we were supposed to think otherwise, but I found the conclusion a bit anti-climatic. Wasn’t it super obvious? I kept thinking there would be another twist, but sadly, there wasn’t.
Elizabeth Jaynes is an excellent writer and I’d love to read more novels by her. I just hope the twist in her next story is a bit more surprising. This one I’d recommended to fans of psychological thrillers and creepy voyeur narrators.
Myriad Editions, 2016
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.