Review: HARBRINGER by Sara Wilson Etienne

Sara Wilson Etienne
320 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: February 2nd, 2012
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: LIKED

Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures in this fast-paced thriller

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.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.

   Harbinger was something else. And since that sentence won’t suffice as a valid review, let me explain.

   Harbinger can’t be categorized. It takes place in a future where oil is scarce, trees are few, and people live in hatred. Sara Wilson Etienne has crafted a story more unique than you would have guessed.

   The hints of paranormal are actually based on truth, as you’ll read in the Author’s Notes at the end of the 320 page book. The story twists and turns in confusing ways that, unlike most, won’t leave you hanging. Harbinger is a standalone and a debut you might just want to pick up.

   Faye is an unusual girl. Her parents can’t even look her in the eye without shuddering and breaking contact. And the fact that she collects bones? Yet another reason why her parents send her off to Holbrook Academy. Stuck with a “Family” who’s as broken as her, Faye struggles for a way to break free. But mysterious happenings that occur when they least expect it have them all puzzled – and utterly afraid.

   Despite the fact that I enjoyed Sara Wilson Etienne’s debut, there were quite a few parts where I just couldn’t understand what was happening. I’m guessing that was because of the mystery factor, but it did take away some of my overall enjoyment of the novel. That shouldn’t stop you from giving this one a try. Like I said earlier, Harbinger is something else.

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Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply


    February 2, 2012

    Hmm. I'm really curious about this one I absolutely love the blurb it's so intriguing. I just ordered it a few days ago so I'm looking forward to it. Lovely review Hafsah!

  2. Reply


    February 2, 2012

    I have been really wanting to read this. I was just on B&N deciding whether to get it or not. Great review!

  3. Reply

    Lauren M

    February 2, 2012

    I really liked Harbinger; the creep-factor was up the wall! Like you said, it was just so original that it can't be categorized! Great review, Hafsah. :)

  4. Reply


    February 2, 2012

    i really want to read this one. not sure what it is about it but i've been looking forward to i for awhile now. i am going to a signing this weekend with the author and can't wait. thanks for the review!

  5. Reply


    February 2, 2012

    I have heard a lot of people say they wanted to read this, but yours is the first review I've read.

    I think the premise sounds amazing, I'm hoping that the world is well built. (That's one of my biggest complaints with books like this, that the dystopian society isn't really believable or understandable.) I am looking forward to reading this, and hoping that after your review I have a better perspective (and my expectations are where they should be.)

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  6. Reply

    Karis Jacobstein

    February 3, 2012

    I am so looking forward to this book. It sounds really good, and your review has helped manage my expectations. It does get bonus points for having one of the most stunning covers of the year, though. :-)

    Karis @YA Litwit

  7. Reply

    Sara (of the Page Sage)

    February 3, 2012

    I can't wait to read this! I'm glad you liked it. (:

  8. Reply

    Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

    February 3, 2012

    I've got this one on hold at the library.
    Sounds unique, which I like in a book!
    Thanks for reviewing!

  9. Reply


    February 3, 2012

    Definitely sounds unique! I can't wait to read it!

    Great review!

  10. Reply


    February 5, 2012

    I've heard such good things about this book, so thanks for reviewing it, Hafsah! I can see how it could be confusing though, it sounds like the book is full of mystery. =)

  11. Reply


    February 5, 2012

    I can't wait to read this! I'm glad you liked it.

  12. Reply


    February 7, 2012

    Sounds interesting…I'll have to check this book out and see what I think. Thanks for the review :-)

  13. Reply

    Maji Bookshelf

    February 10, 2012

    Great review Hafsah !! Very well written! This story does sound intriguing, and im glad you liked it. I do get annoyed when i just don't understand whats happening in a book, but maybe they just do it for suspense i guess… And thanks for the giveaway!! <3

    Farah @MajiBookshelf

  14. Reply


    March 1, 2012

    I just won a copy of this book and now i really want to read it! Some of the events are based on true stories! Thats so awesome! Thanks for the review, i wasnt sure if it was a novel or a series.

  15. Reply


    November 1, 2012

    Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into this book. I constantly found myself questioning everything. Wasn't my cup of tea.

  16. Reply


    November 5, 2012

    I just don't know about this book now. I have it an haven't started it yet. Dang, after your review I am tempted to put it on the back burner for now. Sounds a little different though. Maybe I would start with the end first.

  17. Reply


    November 5, 2012

    I was disappointed in this book. I didn't really enjoy it. I guess I was just expecting more.

  18. Reply

    Jaime Lester

    November 20, 2012

    Having read Harbinger, seeing only “this book is something else” is the perfect review. How….. weird was this book? I loved the cover, and the synopsis was appealing. But this book was just plain strange. I really did like it, but towards the end it got confusing and it also got almost way too out there. But I can't say that I wouldn't read something else by this author. Her writing is wonderful, and this was so unique. That is a huge plus in my book!

  19. Reply

    The Writer in the Background

    February 20, 2013

    I read this, too, and honestly I had a really hard time understanding it all…