Friday, January 08, 2010

Alone – Review

Author: Marissa Farrar

First Published: 2009

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: When Serenity reaches the end of her tether no one can save her. The men in her life to date have all been takers, users, people who suck the life out her and then somehow make her feel as if it’s her fault. This was Serenity’s life until she crosses paths with the mysterious Sebastian.

From the moment they meet Serenity’s life changes, but Sebastian has a dark secret and a past that threatens Serenity’s future. Finally Serenity is alone, but does she now have the strength to conquer her fears and save herself.

The Review: Alone is a vampire romance novel though, I will say at the head of this review, not the candy heart romance you might then fear – or at least, the candy heart romance that I feared.

Let me explain, whilst vampire romances might be the in thing, the last thing I wanted was to pick up a romance book - though I cannot pass up a vampire book. I am not the biggest fan of the romance genre at the best of times and, when it comes to vampirism what I really want at the moment is a more brutal edge – a panacea to the nicey-nice vampires who are flooding the market. I don’t object to some good old fashioned eroticism – after all, such is one of the cornerstones of the genre – but I want some tooth and claw, so to speak.

Alone has a brutal edge, but not in the way one would expect. What Marissa Farrar does is to draw the brutality of domestic abuse around us – a violence, brutality and evil more pernicious, for being real, than any fictional vampires. This isn’t the societal hell that John Ajvide Lindqvist drew around is in Let the Right One In, to be fair, but a more private hell reserved for the character Serenity. She lives with domestic abuse, and her plight, her loneliness maybe, draws Sebastian – a vampire. He cannot really help her, however, the book is about her own empowerment about her finding her own strengths.

The introduction of a second vampire, Madeline, gives a focus for that empowerment. In many respects Madeline is as abusive to Sebastian, and by extension to Serenity, as Serenity’s mortal husband, Jackson, is to her.

As for our vampires, they are incredibly fast and strong and they heal quickly; sunlight, however, is a killer. Sebastian feeds as little as he can get away with – though the need to feed becomes unbearable after a while. They have to dispose of their kills carefully. The kills will return, though more like revenants (though that term isn’t used) than vampires. To dispose of them they must be deprived of oxygen – this is an issue for vampires as well, though it takes a much longer time to finish them off.

These cannot be “vegetarian” vampires, they need human blood to remain human themselves. Sebastian suspects that the myth of the werewolf stemmed from witness accounts of vampires who had tried to subsist on animal blood and lost their humanity altogether. This was an interesting premise and I do like the tying back together of vampire and werewolf mythologies. I would have liked this to be explored more, was there a point when all humanity was irreparably lost? Did the subsequent animalistic feeding on humans bring back the human side, making things more cyclic? That said there probably wasn't room within the plot to explore this further, one feels, and so perhaps a future volume might explore this concept in depth.

I started the book with an expectation of struggling, not because of any perception of the author’s skill and Marissa Farrar does prove herself as a solid prose writer, but because of the sub-genre I understood the book to be part of. I found myself enjoying the book and discovered a hard edge within the novel that I never expected. 6 out of 10. The ebook can be purchased through


Anonymous said...

So glad you liked Alone! And I'm with you, I'm not a romance-genre fan, but this one doesn't sound quite like the norm. Marissa is a solid writer, and funny in her blogs, too!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Nicole... I should mention to anyone reading this review that I won the book over at Nicole's site All Things Smart and Scary.

Marissafarrar said...

Thanks for the review Taliesin - glad it wasn't too much of a struggle to read considering you don't like romance novels! Hope you will do me the honour of review my new novel when it is out in paperback May 1st. It's more horror than romance - I promise!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Marissa, I'd be honoured to but, I think I need to explain. Whilst I don't like romance, the romance genre I don't like is that candy heart romance... as such, your novel was not a romance - or at least not the sort of romance that I dislike.

My fear came from an assumption born through the label "romance" and what I wanted to get across to the readers was that this wasn't what the book was, but indeed it was something more.

Glynis said...

A good review. I too do not like the "Twilight" vampires finding it all too sickly. This book galloped on a pace and I would have liked to have seen more of Madeline a vampire with attitude and designer bags. I want a vampire to be a vampire not a pretty boy.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers for the comment Glynis - the Twi-Vamps have their place (luring unsuspecting new fans of the genre I suspect) but I want some tooth and claw and Marissa's vamps had that.