Cover Image: Briardark


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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ -- Fantastic cover on this one.

What is with cliffhangers lately? I haven't read a book with one in over a year, now I have read two in the span of a week! 🤔

Survival and cosmic horror collide in S.A. Harian's new series, Briardark. The story revolves around Dr. Siena Dupont and her team's Alpenglow glacier expedition that turns into a nightmare when they discover a missing hiker hanging from a tree. The disappearance is just the beginning of the chilling phenomena that follow.

Meanwhile, Holden Sharpe's IT job leads him to a decommissioned hard drive where he stumbles upon an audio file that tells the story of Siena's expedition gone wrong. He becomes entranced by the mystery and searches for answers about her fate.

Overall, Briardark is well-written, well-paced, intriguing and engaging in every sense of the word. With multiple points of view and timelines adding depth and intrigue to the story. And lush and evocative descriptions of the forest that immerse the reader in a world teeming with life and mystery. It will keep you on edge of your seat throughout and leave you wanting more at the end. I can't wait for the next book in this thrilling series!

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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I don’t read a ton of horror, but when a good, spooky horror rears its head, I find it really hard to resist. That’s definitely the case for Briardark. If that cover isn’t enough to convince you this is going to be a spine-tingling romp, that blurb will definitely do it for you. Growing up in the Adirondacks, I’m a sucker for anything that involves creepy woods/forests, so I knew I had to check this one out!

Briardark is horror at its purest, with something ominous lurking just around the corner, things not quite as they seem, plot twists, strange occurrences, and a mystery centuries in the making.

This book is comped to Lost, which is a show that I absolutely loved but didn’t often understand. I feel like that’s a pretty fair comparison for this book. The atmosphere is top-notch, the creeping sense of dread, the feeling of wrongness. It’s all so well done. However, I would caution readers to not expect to necessarily understand what the heck is happening. I hope the next book will clear things up, but I was so confused at the end of this book!

My Thoughts

- This world is dark and not for the feint of heart. Be forewarned. You’ll find no heroes here. I’m not saying everyone in this world is necessarily evil, because they’re not. They’re just . . . humans. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but humans are kind of messy balls of chaos and emotion. Everyone has some sort of secret they’re hiding from the rest. It’s just that some secrets are more deadly than others. If you weren’t keyed in by the fact that this book is, in fact, in the horror genre, let me assure you that plenty of dark things take place. No one enters (or leaves) the Briardark unscathed. No one can be trusted. Not your friends. Not the people you thought you knew. Can’t even trust your mind, sometimes, because the woods can play tricks on you. Briardark will definitely appeal to readers who like a little bit of dark worlds and eldritch horrors. If you’re looking to appreciate how wonderful our messed up world is, Briardark can definitely accomplish that!

- There’s something . . . off . . . about the Deadswitch Wilderness, as Siena and her team are about to learn the hard way. This was by far my favorite part of the book! Harian does such a fantastic job of creating this foreboding atmosphere that develops this sinking dread that something’s wrong. Even if you’re not quite sure yet what it is. Things just aren’t adding up, and you can’t put your finger on it. Let’s be honest, woods are creepy to start with. I don’t care if you love them, you spend lots of time in them, anyone who knows anything will know that woods can be creepy. It’s one of the reasons I love horror books set in forests. There’s just so much unknown that could be lurking in the trees. Harian really capitalizes on this feeling! As much as she tries to deny it, Siena knows something’s up. Partly because they aren’t the first research group to trek to Alpenglow to study the glacier in Deadswitch Wilderness. In fact, her professor, who she looked up to, knew something about Deadswitch that he wasn’t exactly forthright with. All Siena knows for sure is that his last words to her were, “Don’t go.” If only she’d listened to him.

- The story is told from two perspectives: one from Siena and her team as they mount an expedition to the Alpenglow glacier, and one from Holden, who finds a strange recording from a team of scientists exploring the Alpenglow glacier. I’m not always a fan of dual timelines/perspectives like this, especially when Holden’s slows down the story so much, but Harian really makes it work here! It’s so well done, in fact, that I find there’s not a whole ton I can say about Holden and his role in the story because a lot of it is going to be a spoiler. And trust me, you need to discover it yourself while reading. What I can say is that Holden’s perspective is a breath of fresh air. He’s not a scientist, and he has no real interest in Alpenglow or the Deadswitch Wilderness. In fact, he’s dragged into the whole thing purely by accident. He’s surly and sarcastic and teams up with the most unlikely person in his mind, but his connection to Siena’s expedition is undeniable. Even if he doesn’t fully understand it himself.

- Despite the story being extremely dark, Harian balances the atmosphere with a host of characters who are relatable and delightfully sarcastic. I feel it should come as no surprise that my favorite character is Zaid, the scientist who’s a teensy bit too in love with his job and sometimes (oftentimes?) takes unconventional and ill-advised approaches to it. In the best way, of course. While I didn’t necessarily immediately love all the characters, they were all relatable to some extent. There are a lot of characters in this, and it can be hard to keep them straight at times, but as I got to know them better, it became a lot easier. I won’t say I was necessarily invested in most of their stories, but I was curious about them, at least. I definitely want to know how their stories end!

Sticking Points

- The plot feels a little too ambitious in that it’s so twisty and mysterious and confusing that even by the end, I have no idea what the heck happened in the last 25%-ish of the book or what’s going on. Individual events, sure, I get, but overall? I just . . . have no idea. I don’t understand what the Briardark is and what’s going on inside it. Obviously, there are answers to come in the following book, and I get that. However, this one didn’t feel quite complete. It was a little too surreal and hard to follow and stretched my disbelief to the point of just about snapping. That being said, I am super freaking curious to find out how this duology ends, so I’m obviously going to be picking up the next book.
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Fast-paced, scary, and addicting as hell. Now this is the good horror I've been craving! And so very rare within this genre; Briardark has lots of varied, complex, and non-stupid characters! 😍

The only bad thing is I gotta wait till 2024 for the sequel. 😩 

I might write more upon re-read...
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This was fantastic! Scary, funny, twisty - everything you want in horror tbh. I love an author that’s like “why give them something when I could give them EVERYthing” and this author truly delivered lol. If this is what you like… you will *love* this book. Please note the caveat that it ends on a(n excellent) cliffhanger and the sequel is not yet out… and then immediately read this!! So fun!! 

A few things I loved:

-This explanation for spooky tech events: “nothing stood out as to how or why the audio was suddenly accessible. Then again, there was a reason he was the IT guy at OSU and not making a quarter of a million at some tech firm.” Thank you!! The perfect amount of handwaving. 😂

-The tone of the eeriness/terror/jump scares - I have a very active imagination in this genre so take this assessment with a grain of that particular salt but I could not *quite* read it at night which is the *perfect* scariness level for me. 🪲☠️🪲☠️

-I gotta say, excellent character differentiation! There were so many characters but I never got them confused which is a true feat.

-I love a toxic relationship in horror!! This book really delivered in a balanced way too: female MC and her toxic male ex, male MC and his toxic female ex, female MC and her toxic lesbian could-have-been-something-if-she-hadn’t-mysteriously-gone-missing-while-hiking-years-ago college friend, I told you this book has it all and it does!! And please note that my head canon is that Isaac is gay but he goes [spoiler], [spoiler]s rapidly, and then is [spoiler]ed so as far as we know from this book he has not had the opportunity to get involved in a toxic relationship… but we don’t know know who he ran into when he was [spoiler]ed in [spoiler]! When you’re trapped in a Wilderness Area where the laws of space and time mean nothing, anything is possible.

-The spooky video game!!!! I hope the sequel has more of this, this is one of my favorite tropes, I love a video game with ulterior motives! Made me want to reread Three Body Problem.

-The *gold* microaggression of a character being depressed and not wanting to hook up with anyone because his girlfriend dumped him and he still loves her, and his new roommate telling him he must be demisexual…. And then when he does get a casual girlfriend she says “I guess I was wrong about you being a demi.” *A* demi?? Who asked you in the first place, stranger!? I do NOT trust that girl and I am 1000% convinced she will be playing a bigger role in the sequel. 🧐🧐🧐🧐 Don’t think I didn’t notice [spoiler]’s [spoiler]’s [spoiler]!

And last but not least…. the 1-star Goodreads review of the fake true crime book about the missing hikers KILLED me: “Shelves: nonfiction, garbage-author, fact-check-on-aisle-nine, profiting-from-pain, dnf. Actual Rating: 0/5 stars.” 😂😂😂
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Why? Why?! Why did the author treat us this way? I wanted to give a three star review after the ending. It just stops. We don’t even get any kind of closure for any characters. It’s like part one is all. But I had to give at least 4 stars because I loved it so much. It’s so unique. I like horror but don’t read it much. Most is like far fetched things. A lot in this book probably are but it’s written where all of it makes you think there’s a possibility it could happen. If you’ve ever hiked and been afraid of something being out there, you may want to read this. A few things made me so upset. But I got over it. There were times I was like what use happened. Then thinking I had it straight, it changed again. I actually got so scared all throughout that I had to stop reading until the next day. Which wasn’t easy because it’s like a bad car crash you don’t want to watch but can’t stop. Imagine being in the woods and all the trails changing within hours. Nothing is like it was before. Things in your cabin even change. Some things appear and some disappear. People have went missing. Will you be next? Yet, back home, there’s others that come across your recordings you are making at this very moment! You haven’t even finished them but they are found before they even occur. Make sense? It will. I loved all of the characters. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher/author for this read!
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A dark, scary and fast paced horror novel that anyone who likes horror in the great out doors should clear their schedule for! 

This novel took me by surprise. I went into completely blind and left it pleasantly surprised. This book never let's up with the tension. You feel the cold seeping into your bones as you read these pages. You cannot go wrong with this book!
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Survival horror is a vibe and Briardark delivers.  What it doesn't deliver on is well rounded characters.  The characterization was disappointing and I felt had they been more built within the story it would be a better read.  Sometimes less is more and in this case the characters were confusing.  The writing and story were interesting and I appreciate the creepy atmosphere.  This would be a great camping read! 

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a science fiction horror with a bit of survival.  

I want to thank the publisher "Compass and Fern"  and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel and all opinions are my own.
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This book is horror with a splash of sci fi. Setting up for a series as the ending is abrupt. Not sure if I will continue but was an interesting read. 

Thanks netgalley and publisher for my arc
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Overall, I really liked this one. Folk horror meets cosmic horror with a decent slice of dark sci-fi, an unflinching look at human nature and just enough mind bendiness. It took a bit of getting into but after about twenty percent the POV changes and podcast/ book/ article extracts all add to the overall ambiance of the novel. In some ways it's similar to The Dark Between the Trees in terms of themes - scientific hubris, human fallibility and the space time continuum misbehaving - but I found this to be a much more satisfying read. If you fancy horror that's more about the traps your own mind sets plus the infinite smallness of humanity in the face of the universe, give this a try.
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As someone who rarely reads horror due to being a little chicken, I gravitate more towards atmospheric horror. Briardark delivered all the horror of the mountains and the pines. I loved that Harian chose to include the time-hopping aspect not as just a narrative device but as a plot one. I'm still not totally certain what happened in the book, and I love that my uncertainty is the point of it all. I'm excited to see what happens next in the world of Briardark.
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Rating: 3 leaves out of 5
-Characters: 2.5/5
-Cover: 4.5/5
-Story: 2.5/5
-Writing: 2.5/5
Genre: Horror/Fantasy/Scifi
Type: Audiobook
Worth?: Yup

Want to thank Netgalley and publishers for giving me the chance to listen to this book.

Where to start with this book. I won't lie. I love the story but I HATED the characters, well not all but Siena and Cameron the most... mostly Cameron. She gave off "ALL MEN ARE ASSHOLES AND NONE OF THEM COULD REMOTELY BE GOOD." Did she treat Isaac nicely? Barely. Cam was the one to make a possible 5 star book into a 3.

That being said I still have no clue on what the fuck Emmett did. Honest to God. I don't know if I missed it or if she just didn't say it.

You know how they say men shouldn't write women? I am going to say S.A. shouldn't or at least not Lesbians because the guys were pretty good in this book.

Besides the limp dick characters I adored the story. If I was judging just on the story the book would be about a 5 if not a 5. It felt kind of like Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer in the sense of being in a SciFi bubble.
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Extremely gripping from the start, and uniquely blends found footage horror with science fiction seamlessly. I loved the layout of this book, how each chapter is from a different characters point of view, and the writing style is flawless. It had some really creepy element, and was reminiscent of The Ritual, Annihilation, and The Endless. Just when you think you're starting to get the answers you've been dying to know, you get pummelled with a frustrating cliffhanger that is sure to make you get your hands on the next book as soon as possible.
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I really loved how Briardark hooks you from the very beginning! It doesn't continuously drag things out and make you wonder if you've picked up the right book.
I'm a huge fan of survival horror and crazy survival stories in general, so this was right up my alley. I thought the plot was really great and tight and even though survival horror is becoming more of a thing, I think that Harian does it really well and has a thought out and unique plot. 
She does this trope justice and I'm 100% here for it! It's nearly impossible to put down!
I don't usually love books with a multiple point of view aspect, but I think Harian really makes it work here.
Will definitely be reccomending and putting on my horror displays!
Thanks for the opportunity to read and review this amazing novel!
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I’m really not sure what I just read but I think I liked it??

Seven years ago, a group of hikers went missing. Now, a science expedition is headed into the same forest to study a glacier. At some undetermined time, an IT guy finds recordings that lead him to believe that the expedition went very, very wrong.

This was kinda like Lost? And a bunch of other things that never make sense until the end. So I’m a little bummed it’s the first in a series because I just need answers.

I wasn’t in love with the prose/storytelling (I spent a good amount of time being kinda confused). But I loved the plot and I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those rare stories that hooks you in immediately.
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Briardark started out super promising, then went rather off the rails. 

I was very excited for a spooky, atmospheric 'cabin in the woods' vibe and things going subtly wrong. The first half of the book delivered in spades on that front, in Siena's story. I also had a lot of fun trying to figure out Holden's side of the story, with the recordings, and how he was connected to Siena. 

When shit hit the fan for Siena, I started to... lose interest? Become disillusioned? I thought the book was at its strongest when staying more subtle and unsettling, and Harian leaned into the Lost vibes a little too much for my taste. Things simultaneously came to light, yet only created more questions and nothing was explained. I would have appreciated some clarity about the Briardark, Siena's connection to it, and Holden's connection to Siena. 

The writing also began to grate on me as I got deeper into the book. A lot of the characters' voices sounded the same - Cam and Angel, Holden and Emmett, they spoke the same, nobody had a particularly individual voice. There was a lot of unnecessary swearing that took me out of the story - I'm far from a prude, but the superfluous cursing felt like it cheapened the mystery for me. 

A lot of potential here, but it didn't quite come all the way together for me. I'll still pick up the next book as I do need to know what happened!
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This haunting novel took turns that I was not expecting. The creepy setting and compelling characters combined to make a book that kept me turning pages. I liked how the writer didn’t get bogged down in the details of the scientific expedition, but she does a great job of making everything seem real. Holden’s story was a bit confusing at first since I wasn’t sure how it fit into the narrative. However, I soon figured out what was going on and from there, the story took off. I hadn’t realized that this was only book one in a series, so the ending came as a disappointment. However, I will be looking forward to the other books in the series.
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<b>"I made a choice, a choice that, over a period of five years, would destroy the lives of my fellow researchers and inevitably disband us. It would reveal the end of our world."</b>

<i>Briardark</i> gets a lot of things right. To name a few: the primal terror of the wilderness, how online conspiracy theories become the stuff of legend, and how fear can both deepen relationships and tear them apart. I loved the way that the varying perspectives artfully revealed more and more details of this mystery. I felt genuinely invested in the characters and committed to unraveling what in the world was happening to them. And then... it ended, with too many lingering questions to simply be a classic horror "up for interpretation" resolution.

From the abrupt and murky finish, it's clear that a sequel is in store, and I will absolutely be there for it. But I give <i>Briardark</i> a final review of 3.5 stars, rounded up, because it ultimately felt like the author set up a story that will grow from here. I recommend reading it, but know that you will want the next part as soon as you turn the final page!

Thanks to NetGalley for access to an eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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In 2015 an expedition group of five women went into the Deadswitch Wilderness to study the mysterious Alpenglow Glacier but none of the women were ever seen again nor even traces that the women had even made it to their destination.

Seven years later another team of four scientists will take this same expedition to the Alpenglow glacier while also hoping to find some leftover remnants of what may have happened to any of the missing women in 2015.   Within thirty miles of their starting point the team realize the trails don't line up with their map but they continue to forge ahead anyway until the discovery of a body hanging in a tree which means they now must wait for the authorities to arrive before they can continue up the mountain but when they try to connect to the nearby ranger station the call only gets answered by voice message recordings.   This will only be the beginning of strange, mysterious, creepy and implausible occurrences which appear to happen in the Deadswitch Wilderness and if this team doesn't turn around to go back soon they may find themselves in the same situation of the forever missing 2015 expedition.

What a creepy and intriguing story this was for me.   I really enjoyed the creative storytelling with great characters and an amazing, eerie atmosphere.   There were several essential characters that intersect in the most unusual ways and because the book centered around Deadswitch it never lost the tension or pervasive illusion of horror simmering in the background.   This novel was an unexpected pleasure for me relating to how well done the continuous mystery and intensity continued until the end of the book although any unanswered questions will go unresolved until the next book is released and I truly hope I can be an early reader for that one.   Even though cliffhangers are a pet peeve of mine this is a novel that I'm excited to have read and I highly recommend it to all horror or science fiction readers since it really was a refreshing combination of both genres giving a cutting edge to a story that was so unique and well-written that I just didn't want the book to come to an end.

I want to thank the publisher "Compass and Fern"  and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel and any thoughts or opinions expressed are unbiased and mine alone!

I have given this book 4 1/2 INTENSELY CREEPY 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌠 STARS!!
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For all fans of horror stories, this one is for you! I was hesitant to jump right into this because horror is not typically I genre I gravitate towards, but oh my goodness, I was 100% obsessed from the first chapter alone. The plot is gripping, action packed, and had me hanging on the edge of my seat! The characters were brilliantly written and so well fleshed out that I enjoyed every scene with each character in it. 

There are plot twists and turns you literally don't see coming in this book. Characters who seem suspicious but aren't. Characters who aren't suspicious but should be considered as suspicious. S.A. Harlan did an incredible job with this novel, and I absolutely loved every moment of it!

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Briardark follows some scientists and an influencer who are studying glaciers. The stories don't happen at the same time and I love the going back and forth between the present and the "true crime" retelling of events. It was super creepy and I didn't predict where the book was going which I really liked Overall, despite the slightly unsatisfying ending, I still recommend Briardark for fans of sci-fi-horror or speculative mysteries. I myself will be eagerly awaiting the sequel.
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