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I fled as they destroyed my home.
I watched as they murdered my family.
I stood silent as they stole my name and threw my life in chains.

I stare coldly at my fading reflection with only one question to ask:
Them or Me?

Set in a future where the United States has fallen, a girl is ripped from her home as a child and forced to endure the harshness around her or else surrender to the dust of bones she treads on. Her life becomes simple: kill or be killed. What she didn’t count on was the heavy cost this world would drain from her soul. When she crosses paths with a curious stranger who offers to show her a place without a map, they head across the crumbling land in search of the fabled Sanctuary. Neither enemies nor elements that rip her hair and claw at her heels can stand in the way of her will to survive.

They say demons lurk in the shadows, but here they strut boldly under the angry sun.

428 pages, Paperback

First published October 30, 2018

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About the author

Talis Jones

22 books35 followers
Talis Jones is a Mexican-English author of magic and mischief. Graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Theatre she has explored both stage and film, now finding herself drawn towards the literary world as a new venue for storytelling.

Dog mom, Broadway enthusiast, and life-long bibliophile, Talis currently resides in North Carolina.

Find out more about Talis and her books at www.talisjonesofficial.com.

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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for JenacideByBibliophile.
209 reviews126 followers
March 27, 2019
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Talis Jones, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Dystopian/Fantasy

Plot: I fled as they destroyed my home.
I watched as they murdered my family.
I stood silent as they stole my name and threw my life in chains.

I stare coldly at my fading reflection with only one question to ask:
Them or Me?

Set in a future where the United States has fallen, a girl is ripped from her home as a child and forced to endure the harshness around her or else surrender to the dust of bones she treads on. Her life becomes simple: kill or be killed. What she didn’t count on was the heavy cost this world would drain from her soul. When she crosses paths with a curious stranger who offers to show her a place without a map, they head across the crumbling land in search of the fabled Sanctuary. Neither enemies nor elements that rip her hair and claw at her heels can stand in the way of her will to survive.

They say demons lurk in the shadows, but here they strut boldly under the angry sun.


What started out as a coming-of-age story in a lawless dystopian land;

ripe with casual murders, children being trained as soldiers and slaves, and the occasional back-stab…

…turned rather suddenly into a story that, quick and silent as a wraith, may have just crumbled my feelings into dust.

My heart…hurts.


“Never trust strangers, unless you’re on death’s row anyway in which case you’ve got nothing to lose, Hero advised.”

After the collapse of the world that we know, a girl of many names is thrust into a time of lawlessness and endless miles of desert. Trained as a young child in skills to be made a soldier or slave in a place called the Coral, Flinch is taught the ways of fighting cruelly and self-preservation. As a teen, she is called Vizsla, and sold to a man named Hans to work as a slave at his homestead in Alabama. But when a man in need of a blacksmiths’ skills arrives at the homestead, he takes an interest in Vizsla and makes an offer to buy her. With her new companion named Connors, Vizsla is given a new name, and given back her freedom. So ensues the tale of a girl with many names, and her journey to keep a promise that she made as a child.

“I wasn’t equipped for this world. I had a vial of adrenaline and a knapsack of dreams and with every year that blew by another hope was plucked from my pockets, pinched from my purse, slipped from my bag. When my last hope was ripped from my rib cage I fell to my knees deflated and empty.”

This story is gritty.

You’re going to feel your lungs fill with dirt, your skin bubble under the angry sun, and your heart begin to turn to cold hard steal.

Alarum begins in the United States after it has fallen to harsh climate changes and the anger of the sun. The cities and towns have been decimated, flattened or completely wiped out. The population has dropped significantly, and only the strong and cunning survive. This world is lawless and unforgiving, where every man is out for themselves.

“Funny thing about this world, when it shifted and twisted it blew gales of sand in storms more powerful than anything our nation had seen before. Whole cities torn down, entire landscapes scraped flat, and all because of a lethal combination of wind, fire and earth, all set into chaos by some fool unknown.”

Though there isn’t an exact explanation of how the U.S. is destroyed, due to our main character being a young child during its demise, I found that the lack of explanation made the story feel so much more authentic. The reader is given just enough information on the subject to enjoy the story, and honestly, who really cares how it happened. Right?

Our main character is, like I said above, a girl of many names. We meet her as Vizsla, formerly called Flinch, afterwards called Kid, eventually called Fury, and another name that was given before all others. As a young child she endures gruesome deaths, brutal fights of survival, and a harsh realization that things will never again be easy. I found her character to be EVERYTHING that I could hope to be if the world ever crumbled: resilient, strong, sassy, capable and methodical. I instantly was fond of her character and became incredibly protective of her. Though I knew she could take care of herself, I kept finding my heart race and skip when something horrible would happen to her.


But probably the best trait of Fury is her perpetual affinity for snarky one-liners and sarcastic retorts.

“These glasses are worth more to me than gold.

He nods towards my dirt-smudged lenses. ‘I trust you’ve got a backup pair somewhere?’


Connors squints at my face. ‘Liar.’

‘I don’t see why you say that, Connors. This is the damn end of the world, there are prescription glasses galore and I always make sure to carry a plethora of options at all times to coordinate with all my outfits.’”

This story follows Fury as she lives in the present, growing through the years, but also switches back to moments of her past. I really liked the switches between past and present in this story, because it gave me an amazing amount of information on Fury and how she lives up to her fierce name. Instead of the author TELLING me all about her past, the reader is immersed in those moments with the main character. I felt every bit of anger, sadness, disgust, terror, and happiness that she felt! Countless other characters were entwined in this story, and each given the care and consideration of being developed well. There are characters that you will hate, ones that you will love, and multiple you wish you had more time with.

I did have a few qualms with the story, by way of some moments not being fully explained or rushed over too quickly. Alarum moves fast. This book covers a TON of ground in its 422 pages, so it would be VERY hard for your attention to wander or for you to lose interest. But because it moves so quickly, I found there were a few moments that I had to go back and read again due to its quick pace. I found myself getting slightly confused in parts of the story by innuendos or confusing descriptions, but nothing that deters from the plot or makes the story hard to get through.

I think the true selling point on Alarum comes down to the writing. Talis Jones has an alluring way with words. She describes EVERYTHING in so much detail, with so much feeling, that you get swept away in the tale that she so elegantly lays before you. She does everything I am so un-used to by authors. Her sentences are LONG. Her characters have the substance of someone who is both enlightened and cursed. She has characters fall in love, but the ROMANCE DOESN’T TAKE OVER THE STORY! She introduces key characters throughout the book, and she even kills off the one’s you’ll grow attached to.

This book was everything I have always wanted in a YA Dystopian styled western.

I am officially hooked on Talis Jones and her stories, and I fully expect you all to be as well.

“Self-preservation makes demands on your body and I refuse to lay down and ignore the call.”

Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,144 reviews1,009 followers
June 24, 2019
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


Have you ever decided to read a book on a complete whim? You know, when you're totally in the dark about it, but the synopsis just called out to you and you took a chance? Well, I did that here. Twice, if we're being technical. The verdict? I was handsomely rewarded with a series that I cannot wait to continue!

Obviously, the synopsis of Alarum was screaming my name. Post-apocalyptic/dystopian hellscape, lawless, dark, and gritty? Oh yes please! And it delivered! The world we find ourselves in at the start of Alarum was one I definitely never want to experience. Our main character (who I won't call by the name she goes by, because she goes by several and some are best found out on your own) has had one hell of a road to travel. She's been kidnapped and sold to people who treat her pretty terribly- and that is just the start of the book. 

The character development that we see through the whole of the MC's life (we are treated to flashbacks along the way which really flesh out both the MC and the world around her) is incredible, because it feels really authentic. One of the things I always ask myself while reading this sort of book is "how significantly would I/those around me change?" during the worst of times. And this answers that, not only in terms of the MC, but for those around her. Because you absolutely will grow to care (or hate, depending) about the side characters just as much as the main character. They're an incredibly well-developed ensemble. 

Obviously, a lot of people aren't changing for the better. But some do. And some just... change. It's incredibly interesting to watch this unfold at the same time that we're also witnessing an epic adventure. Because make no mistake, this book is full of action and absolutely isn't afraid to go dark. Just when you think things are as bleak as can be... you were wrong, because they're bleaker. But the author also does an amazing job at sprinkling little seeds of hope when you need them most. It's really the best of both worlds. 

Bottom Line: I am so pleased with Past Shannon for taking the chance on this series! It was everything I hoped it would be, and much more! 
Profile Image for Angela Cuéllar.
904 reviews96 followers
August 22, 2021
A surprising adventure filled with grit, heart, and guns.
Not my usual genre go-to but...idk something about this one really grabbed me ♥ It's the type of book that will surprise you, lure you in, then make you want to throw it right out the window, but then you'll find yourself desperately hunting for it just so you can read it all over again.

If you’re looking for a standalone that crosses genres and captures the wild spirit of the American West, the grit of a dystopian future, and the heart of a girl who refuses to lie down when the demons come a calling, then Alarum is a definite must-read. Don't be too quick to pass over this one and be ready to reach for book two! (Yes there is a book two, THANK GOODNESS, but it is possible to read this first book as a standalone if you want to).

Read my full review here: https://pooledink.com/2019/06/21/blog...
Profile Image for Caroline Peckham.
Author 84 books13k followers
January 6, 2019
A beautifully written story with gritty undertones that paints a picture of a dystopian America baked by a red sun.

This one left my heart-racing and my thoughts wheeling. I had to get over this one for a couple of days before gathering myself together to write a review!

The MC goes on a brutal journey from slavery to freedom, searching for Sanctuary in the desolate new world.

The friendships she’s makes along the way were so well developed and I shed a tear when anyone was lost along the journey.

The love at the heart of this book made my heart pound and break. I can’t say much more without giving anything away so all I say is pick up this book!!! You won’t be disappointed!!

5+ stars!!
Profile Image for Aisha Reads.
8 reviews
January 21, 2019
I want to thank Talis Jones for giving me the opportunity to read Alarum. After many days of thinking about Alarum (more like a week or two), I think I finally have words to put to the feelings that I was left with when I finished reading the novel.

It is safe to say that I had never read a novel like Alarum. It is a book that will stay with me forever, I am sure of it. Here’s my gush filled review!

Firstly, Alarum gave me major The Walking Dead vibes minus the Walkers. I am not sure if it was because I was catching up on the show when I began reading the novel, but I could not help but feel that I was in a somewhat similar world. I was surprised to see that there was much more to the world that is mainly presented, and that was really exciting. The details of the world and different areas within what was once the US is refreshing. You get a great amount of detail that allows you to build the settings up in your head.

I was amazed with the complexity, reality, and savageness (is that even a word?) of some of the characters. Oh! Can I say strong female characters?! The MC, who has many names, develops into one of the strongest female characters, both physically and emotionally, that I have come across.

There are times in the novel where you get to go back in time and see what the MC went through as a child. A lot of it was heartbreaking for me because I have two daughters and I would not be able to see them (or any child) go through such cruelty, but you are able to see how the MC developed and why she continues to change throughout the novel.

Throughout the whole story, I felt hope because why not? And then the end… and I had hope! When I tell you, I was left like a blubbering mess… I mean I was reading the book at 3 AM just staring at my kindle, flipping through the last 2 pages, mentally screaming WHHYYYY, WAIT… WHAT?!

All in all, this book was just a complete amazing surprise that I needed in my life. I cannot wait to go on and read Crooked Raven (Otherworld #1) by Talis Jones because her writing is fantastic and her story-telling grips you and doesn’t let go.
Profile Image for Emmanuelle Ide.
148 reviews4 followers
January 10, 2019
*ARC provided by the author in exchange of an honest review*

This book is my first read of 2019 and what a way to start the year! Alarum is many many things that I did not see coming.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic United States where we follow a girl's journey from being a Flinch trying to survive in a world where only the strongest sharks remain, to a free woman saving herself and the few people around her.

I find it very poetic, allegoric and incredibly well written. There are loads of innuendos: for instance, you never really know what happens to the world, you just know there's some kind of apocalypse thing going on. The narration is good, the setting is nicely done, the pace is good and the characters are all loveable. But most of all, it's human: I found myself laugh and cry or being tense. I love it when that happens. After all, isn't that why we love to read?

What I love most about the book? The major plot twist (when you read it, you'll know what I'm talking about), it honestly blew my mind and made me reach for my tissues in the dark, knocking over my glass of water in the process (don't do that at home, it's stupid and you might end up with a flooded pillow). I absolutely loved it!

I should also point out that finally, we have a story where characters can have love interests but it's not the main focus of the story. Thank you for that Talis Jones!

It's a series so expect some unanswered questions, but I can't wait to discover what's in store for the sequel!
Profile Image for Cynthia (Bingeing On Books).
1,645 reviews119 followers
September 8, 2019
What an unbelievable book. I honestly have no clue where I heard about this one. But man, I am so glad I decided to read it. I kind of got out of the dystopian genre a while ago because they all started to seem alike. But I absolutely loved how the author dealt with this and I loved the author's writing style. The main character goes by many names throughout her life and there is SO MUCH character development. When this book starts, the main character is only five years old. But by the end, she is twenty and she's cynical from everything she has been through. Yet, she still has amazing generosity and kindness inside her. There were a lot of enemies, there was a lot of action and the ending was CRAZY! I cried so hard at the end. Can't wait to read the sequel!
November 22, 2018
This book is one that I would recommend! You can tell that the author really puts herself into the book. There are things that if you asked what would happen in the apocalypse if this happened? It is in here.

There are so many emotions in this book. You will love it, and yell at the author through it. Through all of the emotions you will get a great read.
7 reviews
June 22, 2019
Great storyline. The characters that you meet on the journey to Sanctuary are hard to forget. Plenty of unexpected twists which seem to be characteristic of Talis Jones’ books. Can’t wait for the next book.
Profile Image for Claire Sholar.
5 reviews
February 16, 2020
A fast-paced novel that will keep you on your toes...so much happens! The characters are very loveable and I’m sad it’s a stand-alone but I can’t wait to read the other books in the universe!
12 reviews
June 1, 2022
Alarum is the first book of the Talis Jones “Walking Shadows” series. Alarum casts a very dark shadow indeed. The story is very well written, with vivid images and characters. Reading the book left me either with a deep sense of sadness, or furious anger. Repeated evil deeds done casually and without remorse put one thought in my mind, “burn in Hell, dirtbags.” The many failed people and plans left me with a deep, heavy sadness in my heart. The author did very well to convey these emotions.
Alarum would make an excellent contemporary film for audiences who like to watch or think about really heavy stuff. But that is not me. It was a hard book for me to keep reading. Each time I put the book down, it was tough to return to this world of dust, blood, greed and death. It saddened me that my favorite character was killed halfway through the book in a senseless gunfight. The horrific meanness of nearly all of the people the protagonists meet kept me thinking to myself “come on, let’s lighten up a little.”
As for rating Alarum, I chose to give it four stars. If I was a tougher person, it would have been five stars. But the sadness and anger conveyed in the book was hard for me to bear.
90 reviews
March 21, 2019
The concept of this book was very interesting. I loved the world that was created. I think the character building was good but the relationships left me wanting. They weren't developed very well so it was a bit difficult to relate to them. The story started off strong but the ending felt rushed. The time jumps didn't help much with that either. I would have enjoyed this book more if it was fleshed out without the time jumps. A few crucial scenes weren't written very well so I had to reread them a few times to understand what had just happened.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. A pretty good read if you enjoy end of the world dystopia.
Profile Image for Talis Jones.
Author 22 books35 followers
January 5, 2022
ALARUM introduces a post-apocalyptic world steeped in the fierce spirit of the Wild West as a girl thrown into its midst must learn how to fight the chains that bind her and protect her soul or else surrender to the dust of bones she treads on. They say demons lurk in the shadows, but here they strut boldly under the angry sun.
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