Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne Review

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Title: Harbinger
Author: Sara Wilson Etienne (Twitter)
Publisher: Putnam
Publish Date: February 2, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 320
Source: Author

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.

Faye doesn't really know what her place is in the world. Holbrook Academy is meant to rehabilitate her, and when her father drops her off, she's even more unsure then before. She feels drawn to Holbrook and her surroundings, but there's an odd sort of charisma on the island, too. It's dark and terrifying. and though Faye feels at home for the first time in her life, weird things keep happening, and she knows it has to be because of her. To top it all off, Faye feels drawn to Kel, but there's something different about Kel, too. He's good, but there's a touch of darkness around him. Can she figure out the mysteries of her existence, Holbrook and Kel before it's too late?

Now, it's no secret that I love me some straight horror stories, but there's something to be said about stories that are silent and deadly. Harbinger is very much one of those. Twisting in an ever-churning maze of darkness and unease, the story winds and writhes, spinning the reader into its deadly web. Sara Wilson Etienne has crafted a one of a kind story that is equal parts psychological thriller and drama. There is a rich, vivid starkness to the pages that, though complex, envelops you into a world that smothers you with an incredible tale from which you both long to remain within and break free. Nothing and everything in Harbinger is real, and by the time you close the last page, you'll be questioning your reality, too.

Gosh, I've been dying to read Harbinger for so long! I love it when stories teeter on the edge of insanity, just seconds from spilling over, but walk that line with precarious ease. Harbinger perfectly portrays the lost teen in Faye that wants so desperately to be normal, and yet wants to be herself, as well. Her internal battle is mimicked quite fluidly in her surroundings within Holbrook Academy. The vividness of the details of Faye's visions was incredible. Harbinger paints a scene of an overwhelming, smothering tidal wave that very nearly envelops the reader, too. Every character, whether primary or secondary, is fleshed out with intricate detail to create a multifaceted mystery. Touches of romance enhance the plot with a rich sweetness, but it's never cloying or overpowering. Rather, the story of Faye and Kel merely serves to strengthen the overall plot of Harbinger. Most of all though, Harbinger is non-stop action from start to finish. Whereas many stories within the genre span months, this one takes place in one week. It's a lot to push into a single novel, but Harbinger bears the burden easily, presented a vivid and haunting story.

I was thoroughly impressed by Harbinger and the author's incredible story-telling, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to read it. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal and dark stories.

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Excellent! I've been looking for a good psychological thriller to compete with Mara Dyer and this one sounds awesome and promising! I love being confused and questioning reality after reading a book, haha!

  2. This does sound good. From the blurb,it sounds like a million other paranormals but I like that it's different. Especially that the romance aspect isn't overpowering. I'm not really into horror, but I'm intrigued.

  3. Done. I just put in my tbr pile! You had me at psychological thriller and drama. The book trailer looks really good and creepy as well.

  4. Honestly how can something simple as red velvet make the cover stand out so much? Cos it sure does

  5. I loved Harbinger! It's probably the creepiest book I've read in a while! *shivers* Glad to hear you loved it to, Melissa! :)

  6. I am SO excited to read this book. Ever since I got the opportunity to watch the book trailer, I've wanted to read the book. And now your review has got me incredibly intrigued!

  7. I am so puzzled by the cover. I can't imagine what it means so I have to read this one. I need to know why she's wearing the blindfold wearing such a pretty dress on such a beautiful night. But I don't like Horror. So, hmmm. I'll have to see which wins out. Great review. You obviously enjoyed it a lot!


  8. This one sounds SO good! horror/psychological thrillers are so my thing! I'm just waiting for a price drop on this one at The Book Depo and then I'll be purchasing! :)

  9. GLad to hear it is a good book! I have been loads of good stuff. Loved the review :)

  10. I've been waiting for a review of this one. I haven't been able to get the cover out of my mind since I first laid eyes on it. Glad to know the book inside lives up to it; it's definitely going on my wishlist.

  11. I've been so anxious to hear your thoughts on this one! I was a bit unsure whether it would REALLY be good and you've convinced me that I MUST read it!

  12. I'm glad you liked this one so much! I'm actually reading it right now!! It's fantastic so far!

  13. Ohhhh SO excited for this! I was a little iffy on the cover (there I go judging books by their covers again! :P) but the more reviews I read of Harbinger the more I can't wait to read it! :D

  14. I've been really curious about this one. GREAT review! :)

  15. Can't wait to read this. I'm not much of a horror fan, but Harbinger sounds intriguing. I love when books are vividly described. Great review!


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