This month’s Spotlight Week features HARBINGER by YA Author Sara Wilson Etienne


Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

320 pages, Hardcover

Genre: YA, Ages 12 and up

Published on February 2, 2012 by Putnam Juvenile

ISBN-10: 0399256687

ISBN-13: 978-0399256684

My Review

Fantasy writer and living legend Tamora Pierce had this to say about HARBINGER: “Heart-wrenching, terrifying, hot, and un-put-down-able!”

Tamora Pierce was right, of course. I read the book in two hours simply because I couldn’t put it down.

Sara Wilson Etienne drew me in with the strength of her prose. Sara paints with words the way her character Faye paints with pictures—with vivid imagery and an attention to details that allows for surrealism.

Faye is beleaguered by visions of blood and of a rising wave, and finds herself strangely drawn to dead animals’ bones.  She thinks she’s going crazy, and she’s not alone. Her father tricks her into enrolling in Holbrook Academy. It’s a school for disturbed teens, but it feels more like a prison for deranged criminals—thanks in part to the suffocating school program and the often times rough way the students are handled by the (care)Takers.

Nestled between the sea and a dark forest, Holbrook Academy is a downright creepy place. It succeeds in magnifying the ominous and eerie tone already set by the main character’s personal experiences.

At Holbrook, Faye’s visions intensify. She forms a tenuous friendship with five other teens who seem to share the same nightmarish dreams as her. She begins to unravel the real reason behind these dreams and visions. The plot twists and turns, and every revelation comes as a surprise.

Faye herself makes for an intriguing main character. She has an observant nature and an eye for detail.  Her ability to describe what scares her is what makes the book a fascinating, and at times, scary read.

I especially loved the addition of riddles hidden within tarot cards, and the element of secret clues strewn throughout Holbrook. I also love the fact that HARBINGER is a stand alone book, so I didn’t have to wait at all for the book’s conclusion.

The story’s fast pacing and its ever-increasing mystery makes for quick page-turning.  It’s hard to classify what kind of genre HARBINGER really belongs to.  It is part psychological thriller, part mystery, part suspense, and part supernatural fantasy.

Sara Wilson Etienne has succeeded in offering an interesting new genre for teens and adults alike to enjoy: Supernatural Suspense.


Tune in this Wednesday for the 2nd installment in this Spotlight series, where I feature an interview with author Sara Wilson Etienne!

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12 Responses to “Spotlight Week: Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne, A Book Review”

  1. Bet she’s very happy with your review!

  2. Congratulations to Sara for the great review! Don’t you love it when you can’t put a book down until you are finished? :)

  3. Jess Haight says:

    Fabulous review! I love the new genre- Supernatural Suspense. This book has an amazing cover- I love it. Your description has me hooked and the fact that you read it so fast. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great review.. I have this book to read and now you’ve made me to want to read it now:)

  5. wow, what a review! Harbinger sounds fantastic. Adding to my TBR list.

  6. It’s a beautiful cover.

  7. Ciara Knight says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book in two hours. That cover is great, and now I really want to read it.

  8. This was an excellent interview and I loved getting to meet Sara and learn about her work.

  9. Melissa Bradley says:

    This sounds like such an intriguing story. I’ll be adding it to my Must Have list.

  10. […] If you haven’t heard of Harbinger, you can check out my Review. […]

  11. Elisa says:

    This book sounds so good! Great review and interview with the author – so much fun. :)

  12. Sigal says:

    Great review Nutschell! I also loved the mystery of the tarot cards. And it’s nice to read a stand-alone novel once in a while and not have to worry about waiting for a sequel…. Though I’ll be waiting to see what Sara Wilson Etienne writes next :)

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