What the blurb says:
Elizabeth Haynes’ new psychological thriller is a brilliantly suspenseful and shocking story in which nothing is at it seems, but everything is at stake.
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.
After Sophie disappears, it’s clear she hasn’t been entirely honest with anyone, including Will, who seems more concerned for Sarah’s safety than anyone else. As the weather closes in, events take a dramatic turn and Kitty too goes missing. Suddenly Sarah finds herself in terrible danger, unsure of who she can still trust.
But she isn’t facing this alone; she has Aiden, and Aiden offers the protection that Sarah needs. Doesn’t he?
Never Alone is the story of Sarah Carpenter who lives in an isolated farmhouse in Yorkshire. Sarah is struggling financially and when an old friend from university offers to rent her cottage from her it seems like there may be light at the end of the tunnel. However, Sarah soon finds herself at the centre of unwanted attention from both her friend, Aiden and an old friend of her son, Will…which one of these men can she trust and just what has she left herself in for by letting them both into her life?
The blurb promises suspense and shock and indeed the plot does build up to a shocking and terrifying climax, however, for me I felt that nothing really happened until the last quarter of the book and perhaps just a little too much time was spent painting the bleak landscape that Sarah found herself in.
The setting was perfect for the story – the bleak Yorkshire Moors in the grip of winter was a perfect backdrop for the plot. You could almost feel the chill in the air as you read and the sense of isolation magnified by the onset of the snow and storms. The intricacy of human relationships was expertly explored and time is taken to uncover what lay beneath the secrets and lies surrounding each character.
The story is narrated by Sarah and Aiden, interspersed with an unknown narrator who is clearly the one to be watching. I quickly worked out who the narrator was which meant it was easy enough to work out where the story was leading – which in itself is not an issue for me (I do love to be a super sleuth!) but the time taken to lead up to the suspense factor was just a little too long for me! There was a lot of unnecessary repetition throughout as Sarah continually pondered over her life experiences and took the dogs for numerous walks!
As a character, Sarah irritated the living daylights out of me – at times I felt like giving her a huge shake! She was insipid and downright stupid at times – she’s living in an isolated cottage, feels unsafe yet continues to leave her door open! For goodness sake woman – a little common sense, please! She had so many secrets and so many damaged relationships yet seemed to do very little in terms of dealing with any of them, I felt that her character could have been so much stronger in her approach to what she was facing.
At first, Aiden intrigued me but then he began to irritate me and the revelation of his “secret” actually left me laughing rather than shocked! I couldn’t actually see him and Sarah going anywhere together at all as a couple.
Will was probably the best-written character in terms of menace and suspense; his very “normalised” reaction to events around him were quite chilling and I would have liked to see a greater interplay between Will and others in the novel.
I loved Into The Darkest Corner and had been eager to read Never Alone, but I’m afraid this one did not have the same impact on me as Darkest Corner. There was too much lead-up and not enough shock and suspense to keep me wholly engaged. However, I would urge you to read the authors other books as I have thoroughly enjoyed them all.