Alone in the Night is the next entry in Laurie Stewart’s A Test of Loyalty series, told through the alternating perspectives of three Mechanicsville teens. The book picks up right where the last one left off, with its protagonists scattered, confused, and, well, Alone. Stewart’s forte is making her teenaged characters sound believable, so that when we’re plopped into the heads of Samantha, Ashleigh or Faraj we’re treated to an extreme yet convincing thought process that’s a little too familiar for those of us whose teenaged years aren’t so far behind us.
This is Alone in the Night’s strength, but it’s also what leaves me wanting more from it. The characters are fascinating: Samantha is the prissy white girl turned rebel when dropped into anything resembling a stressful situation. Ashleigh is the native tough girl adjusting to her new life in a foster home. And Faraj is the handsome Muslim boy imprisoned for a terrorist attack his family tricked him into committing.
In the first book all of these characters were constantly interacting with each other, so the novel felt more like a cohesive story. In the second, they rarely have the opportunity to interact with each other, making it feel more disjointed. The stories of each individual character are connected in theme and setting, but I would have loved to see more of an interwoven tale. The book’s ending is abrupt but seems to imply we’ll be seeing more of that in the future, which I’m looking forward to.
The setting is a selling point for locals as most of the action takes place near recognizable Ottawa landmarks. Alone in the Night feels like a story that could only be told in Ottawa. Its stories of crime, rebellion and prejudice work in part because they take place in a town that makes it easy to forget these things exist in the first place.