Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Faye isn’t sent to a boarding school to find herself or to get in shape. Faye is sent to Holbrook Academy because she is crazy—and her parents don’t know what to do any more. Faye has spent her entire life being shunned; she has an eerie way of reading people, feeling their secrets. She draws bones and collects them under her bed. She has panic attacks thinking that the ocean is drowning her, visions of something she can’t describe.

But when Faye gets to Holbrook, things don’t get any more normal. Every morning, her hands are smeared in blood and a cryptic drawing is finger-painted onto her floor. But  she’s not the only one experiencing some weird events at Holbrook.

In Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne, Faye and her “family” of five students at Holbrook attempt to unravel the mystery of their harsh delinquent camp and the meaning behind their blood-smeared hands. Harbinger is dark. And I don’t mean “my boyfriend is secretly a vampire/werewolf/zombie/ghost” dark. I mean twisted, psychologically thrilling, scary dark. I love it.

When a book can completely catch me off guard and banish any of my preconceived notions, I know that it’s worth the read. Harbinger has a voice in Faye that I haven’t heard before in YA lit, and it sheds light on a dark and twisted place I never dreamed I would enjoy reading about. There’s a love interest—but Faye’s convinced he’s trying to kill her. Kel, the boy constantly on her mind, is a complex character who isn’t the typical bad-boy-turned-marshmallow type inhabiting most teen books. He’s legitimately messed up. It makes him all the more real, along with every other character.

Harbinger is a little slow to get into, but once you get the back story down, the suspense just keeps building until you’re up at 2 a.m. flipping through the pages to figure out what happens next. Harbinger is an exciting new book that blows the average YA mystery out of the water.


Maggie Martin is a teen fiction writer who lives in Iowa.  Music inspires pretty much every aspect of her life, so naturally she’s a band geek that lives and breathes music.  Seriously.

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