Cover Image: Briardark

Briardark

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Member Reviews

Briardark, the first in a new series, is a wild ride and off to an excellent start. This book has all the makings of a creepy story, including an “in the woods setting. The plot was so horrifically perfect, it totally captured my attention. I am very much looking forward to book two in this series
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I think I'm in the minority here, but I have to say this didn't tickle me the way I wanted it to, and I had a very different reading experience than other reviewers. Unlike them, I felt creeped out and really engaged for the first half of the book, but my interest slowly waned until it fell flat with the ending. I'm not sure I'll continue with the next book. It felt a little bit lackluster and I thought the writing wasn't strong enough to carry so many POVs and still make them distinguishable. I wasn't the biggest fan of some of the careless language, whether we're talking an HP reference or people being "ethnically ambiguous" or "gold-skinned". What in the Sarah J Maas is that, you know?

However, I feel like this is a perfect fit for people who don't want to bother with the dry style of Annihilation and are instead looking for a horror novel that can be likened to LOST and give you a sense of a twisted portal fantasy. Would still recommend it.
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Dr. Siena DuPont and a team of scientists go into the Deadswitch Wilderness to study a glacier. Just five years prior, five hikers including a famous influencer disappeared in the same forest and search and rescue teams turned up absolutely nothing. No sign the five women had even been there. But this is Siena’s life’s work, so off to the forest they go! The team gradually begins to realize that things are not quite right - the terrain doesn’t look right and doesn’t match the map. Then they stumble upon a dead hiker suspended in a tree and they keep going because they’re blinded by science. Things continue to devolve. Then the story switches over to Holden, who works for a university IT department. He comes across a hard drive containing DuPont’s recordings from the expedition. And they’re pretty disturbing, so he and a coworker investigate. As the two storylines get closer to merging, it becomes clear that Deadswitch is hiding some serious secrets and nightmares.

I loved this! I was hooked from the very beginning. The story is spooky and atmospheric, the characters are compelling, and the plot kept me guessing. The ultimate direction of the novel was not what I was expecting, but it was awesome. Kindof a mashup between The Ritual and Annihilation Ends on a cliffhanger because it’s the first of a series, which is super exciting!

Thank you netgalley and Compass and Fern.
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I don’t quite know how to describe this book without giving too much away. This book was a lot of fun to say the least. It reminded me of Annihilation mixed with the Silent Hill and Blair Witch games. There were a a lot of great sci-if / horror elements. The characters were just okay in my opinion because I didn’t really get attached to any of them. That honestly wasn’t the main focus to me though. I was there for the mysterious otherworldly forest vibes and the book delivers.

I thought that there was a lot left unknown at the end of the book. I still didn’t know exactly what was going on but I have enough to speculate. Thankfully it is a series so I imagine the next book will fill in the blanks. I never read series but I’m definitely interested in reading the next book.
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Normally I anticipate some sort of resolution in a volume, even if it part of a series. This does not do that! If you can handle that or are a series person, then this is for you!! I am looking forward to the next installment to see what it brings - I am hooked and here for the ride. The world / parallel universe is intriguing and constantly shifting just out of reach. The foreshadowing is clear but (hopefully) not giving everything away. The overarching plot based on an old cult is still unfocused enough to not know who is "good" or "bad" or what the goal is, although the depiction of one side - the shadow - certainly seems to code "evil." There is still room for that not to be clear. 

That said, there are a couple of red flags that could make me lose interest as the series goes. 

The horror sometimes falls flat. It needs some context, explaining, or just more creepy vibes for us to be with the characters. There's one particular sequence of being trapped that really felt like something out of a B horror / sci-fi movie. It took me a bit to figure out why they were scared, let alone having their level of fear. If the tension is right, we should be closer to their terror. 

There is so much relationship whining that seem to be setting up happy ever afters, Eat, Pray, Love style. This is not the part of the fairytale to bring to the horror show.  

There may not be anything more to the secrets than what we already have, and it will turn into just more. This reminds me of Justin Cronin's The Passage series. Just when you were invested and hoping for more from the story of an individual, the lens moved to someone else ad infinitum. Some people loved this! I slogged my way through 1000+ pages waiting for a payoff that never came. Luckily I didnt waste more of my life since plot summaries are in wikipedia for books 2 and 3. Please please please please please don't be the same thing here. It seems there are enough unwoven threads that have links that it wont be the case, but I've thought that before too. 

Basically, I am worried it will turn too much into a soap opera, neverending, no resolution, and contrived tension and drama. I'll definitely be seeing where the next book leads!! I'll be looking for the threads to come together more than the same amount of losely woven tapestry, but I also don't do many long series. If you do, this is going to be perfect for you!
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"She didn't care what they could or couldn't afford. It didn't matter if they ran out of water tomorrow or next week. The ending would be the same."

One of my favorite tropes in horrors are the "lost expedition", or anything in the woods, and lost media,  so I was so excited when I started this. The book is told in ultiple POV's, we get the main researcher in the group, Siena Dupont, and the IT-guy who found the lost files from the expedition, Holden. In between the chapters there are excerpts from the fictional book "Without A Trace" by John Lawson, detailing the case of five missing people, last seen on their way to Deadswitch Wilderness, which is an element I really like in a book. This is pitched as a cosmic horror which isnt usually a horror sub-genre I read, but I loved this book, 

The characters are well developed and you feel for them almost right off the bat. They all have their own unique characteristics that makes them feel real and fleshed out. The LGBTQ+ rep in this book is great, Cameron is openly gay, and Holden expresses his demi-sexuality on page.
The writing flows nicely on the page, the pace is nice and it didnt feel rushed or drawn out, and iI just wanted to keep reading, The book is atmospheric, its almost like you feel like you're right there with them, the creepiness just seeps off the pages. 

I had an amazing time reading Briardark and I will definitely buy the finished version. I'm looking forward to reading book 2, Wayward in 2024. This is a 4,5 from me!

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC!
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Thank you to @netgalley and
#compassandfernpublishing for an eARC in exchange
for an honest review.

#briardark by #saharian

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is a sapphic
horror, with multiple lesbian characters. This will
definitely be going on this years #sapphichorror rec
post this #spookyseason

I started it on 1/21/23 because my goal is to get my
#netgalley ratio up, and finished on 01/22/23. If you
like:

💫cosmic horror
🌲 horror out in nature
👩‍❤️‍👩lesbians
🎧 a fast-paced read that hooks you from the
beginning

then this book is for you. Things are not as they seem
in Deadswitch, and it has a tendency to devour people,
leaving no trace behind. You are following a research
the team that is headed out to this forest to study a glacier,
but they discover things...off. Not only are their current
experiences spooking them out, but there is the history of
another group of women that disappeared, one being a
popular video game streamer who disappeared after
playing an obscure indie horror game. Then, you have
the perspective of an IT specialist who finds some
mysterious recordings.

This is one of a series (book two will be out in 2024 per
the eARC) and I am so excited to continue this
journey.

⭐⭐⭐⭐✨/5

#bookreview #horrorcommunity #horrorbooks
#bookrecs #lgbtbooks #sapphicbooks #wlw
#lgbtbookstagram #booklover
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The synopsis grabbed my attention but the story had me turning page after page. This sci-fi, horror mystery was really good! The story flowed well and I found it to be rather unique. This is the first book in a series and it ends on a cliffhanger. Loved the characters and the overall vibe. I can't wait for the next book.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is one of those books that is difficult to review because although I was entertained and kept flipping pages, there are definitely some aspects that didn't work for me.

I really enjoyed the plot and mystery elements. Everyone making comparisons to the TV show Lost are absolutely spot on when it comes to the tension and the strong sense of place. The environment and its mysteries drive the story more than anything else and that's one place where this book truly delivers. The wilderness feels so ominous and menacing, while also having moments of beauty and natural wonder. I could have kept reading about this place and its secrets for many more pages.

I really wish the characters felt as well-crafted as their setting. Unfortunately they all felt a little flat and underdeveloped. Some of the descriptions or mannerisms became repetitive and I found myself wanting more. It ended up feeling like there wasn't anything more to them than the puzzle piece personalities that needed to be fitted into the story.

I also felt like the story was a little long in areas. While the unraveling plot and increasing unease throughout the book was very effective, I sometimes wished things were moving along a bit quicker to help sustain that tension.

All in all, Briardark was an entertaining adventure that invoked a horrified kind of wonder specific to nature behaving wrongly. Even when I rolled my eyes at clunky dialogue or a character using the same mannerism for the hundredth time, I still wanted to know what was wrong in those woods. I'll definitely be reading the sequel.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Compass and Fern for an ARC in exchange for review.
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I love horror stories and love hiking, so picking this up was a no brainer!  And I am so glad I did!  It is a great story that I could not put down!  The set up for the book is amazing: a research team set out to the woods in the same place where 5 hikers went missing years before.  So the reader is immediately wary of these woods.  But these are scientists, researchers who are experienced in the woods, so it'll be ok right?  Of course not!  So I loved the trouble they ran into and it sure does get creepy and scary!  There are twists and turns that not only could I not anticipate, I didn't even know there were twists coming!  The relationships between the characters are complex and gritty.  There is even a dual timeline that is equally intriguing.  I normally prefer one timeline over another, but in this book I enjoyed them both.  I really look forward to next installment of this story!
Thank you NetGalley for the advance digital copy of this book!  All opinions are my own.
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This book is really really good. I did not expect to love it this much. The suspense was built up beautifully and I did not expect any of the twists. The writing was also very creepy. I can't wait to see what happens next
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3.5 There is a lot to love about this Lost/Annihilation mash-up.  The plot is entertaining and original, if a little convoluted.  The characters and action are believable though other reviewers are correct in finding the main characters a little flat. Note too, as other reviewers have warned, this is the first of at least two, so do not expect any resolution by the book's end.  Good enough that I want to see where the story goes.  This would be great for mainstream readers who struggle with Van derMeer's Annihilation series.
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REVIEW
(disclaimer: I recieved a digital review copy of Briardark through Netgalley in exchange for a review.)
Whatever I expected from Briardark, it wasn't this.

To tell the truth, I went in not knowing what to expect; the publishers introduce it as "perfect for fans of LOST and House of Leaves," two properties which I haven't yet touched (I know, I know, HoL is on my TBR this year). Based on my scant knowledge of these properties I assumed that meant people would be lost in a weird place.

In Briardark, people sure are lost in a weird place, but it gets so much wilder and bizarre than I could have ever dreamed of. Typically when a book is shilled as a horror thriller, it's just a horror book with a bit of thriller or a thriller book lumped into the horror category because it's a thriller. This, however, is a true horror thriller; the twists in this book are insane, and this is from someone who usually sees "twists" coming from a million miles away. Every single one not only ramps up the tension but also does something clever to tweak an aspect of reality we thought we could trust. Harian is also very patient when it comes to the reveal. Nothing's ever rushed, and the payoff for elements introduced or revealed can take chapters, if not hundreds of pages.

It's a quick read, too, despite its length (350+ pages, 10+ hour audiobook!). The pacing is excellent, knowing when to slow and take in the view and when to hurtle forward over the edge. Several times while reading, I would go to update my reading progress and realize that I'd only read five pages, but with all that had happened I'd expected 20+. In Briardark, stuff just keeps happening and doesn't stop.

THE PEOPLE
While the blurb implies that there will only be two POVs, Briardark actually gives every character in Seina's team a POV. Siena and Holden are the main characters, yes, and most of the narrative is told from their perspective, but the narrative also isn't afraid to shift over to another character when necessary--usually when folks split up (or get split up). The reader isn't being shuffled around character's heads willy-nilly.

Normally I'm not a fan of multiple POVs; for me, more than two POV characters is pushing it. Briardark, however, does a really excellent job of handling multiple POVs. It establishes the characters firmly from Siena's POV first, allowing readers to become familiar with who they are before swapping. Also (and this important), every character is both unique and enjoyable.

Out of all the cast, Cam is my favorite. She's a well written lesbian character, something I always appreciate and rarely see. She's allowed to have a close, meaningful relationship with Siena, a straight woman, without ever being attracted to her. Siena never even considers the possibility. Cam's capable, respected in her field and her colleagues, and the trauma she has from her involvement with Briardark in the past is handled really well. I know these things can seem low bar to hurdle, but I'm starved for good lesbian rep, especially in horror/thriller books. I really hope to see more from her in the second book--her plotline was, to me, one of the ones I'm most invested in.

THE PLACE
The establishment of place is beautifully done. The book is set in an absolutely awe-inspiring wilderness. Despite the fact I would definitely die immediately (and not even due to anything eldritch, just from the hiking), I'd love to visit.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from my writing classes was to treat place as another character. It's just as important as the human characters in a story, if not more so; the Deadswitch Wild, Briardark, even individual rooms all have their own character. This, of course, goes double for when the wild starts to get weird and eldritch (in more ways than one).

Honestly, I'm usually not one to be pro-map in books. I think they're fine, but I usually don't use them. I think that Briardark would benefit greatly from having a map included; maybe not necessarily in the beginning, but several maps are mentioned over the course of the book, and I was just dying for them to be included as an illustration or in the back. I read an advanced digital reader's copy through Netgalley, so they may be included in the final product. If not, I really hope the second book comes with a map or gets map illustrations. The textual description of them was well-done, of course, making them not strictly necessary, but they'd be cool.

That said, a lot of what is set up in this first book lore-wise recieves no payoff. It's the first book in a series (thank God), so having to wait for reveals is to be expected, but it's going to be hard to wait. Luckily, the second book, Waywarden, comes out in 2024. I can't wait to return to the Briardark in a year.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I can't say if the comparison to LOST or House of Leaves is accurate. What I can say is that if you enjoyed titles like The Dark Between the Trees or short stories like "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" and "A Psychological Shipwreck" you'll love Briardark even more. It's weird, tense, and has some fantastic characters I can't wait to read more about.

Briardark released 16 January 2023. If you're interested in the book, check out the official website (https://briardark.com/), request the book from your local library, or buy yourself a copy!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. 
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book with the sci fi thrown in but it was really good. 
A mystery set in the wilderness and trying to survive in this creepy forest! 
Great read.
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Damn this was way better than I expected. I had kind of forgotten that I had requested this on NetGalley and then started it on a whim and I'm so glad I did. Harian definitely tripped me up a few times with where this story went, and I did not see at least one of the twists coming. It's a creepy book, but not in the way of traditional horror. It's definitely more sci-fi, New Weird, Annihilation- style creepy. Where you want to look away but you can't cause it's so messed up. It does end on a hell of a cliffhanger, so be prepared. Four stars only because sometimes it was difficult to keep track of all the characters and where we were in the story and timeline.

Anyway, DEFINITELY recommending this one to friends who enjoy weird and well-plotted horror.
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Briardark by S.A. Harian is one heck of a wild, mind bending story. There are multiple connected stories happening. I don’t want to go into major spoiler territory, so here’s just some early info to whet the appetite and pull you into the story. Years ago a group entered the woods never to be seen again. Now Dr. Siena Dupont and her team are entering the same area to do some research…when they come across a body of a woman who happens to look exactly like one of those missing women. It’s been years, how is that possible? After trying to contact help she returns to the scene of the crime, but the body is gone. Meanwhile Holden, and IT tech is reviewing a hard drive when he comes across some disturbing files that chronicle Dr. Siena’s expedition. When he attempts to contact the owner of the drive he gets shutdown, piquing his curiosity further. This is a wild story, that will likely keep you guessing. It certain did for me. The writing is quite engaging, and every time I reached the end of a chapter I felt compelled to read on, kept telling myself just one more chapter. Just be aware this is just the first book in a series and this book ends on a kind of cliffhanger. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next. I’d like to thank Compass and Fern LLC and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an eARC of Briardark.

https://www.amazon.com/review/R2TPH84H8JKPC8/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
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A great horror/thriller book that would be perfect for a late night fall read. 

The changing POVs mixed with some excerpts from another book within the story, and the creepy atmosphere of the forest they were lost in made this a delightful, creepy book. 

I feel like I was hooked right from the beginning and it didn’t really slow down to much. I couldn’t put it down trying to find out what was going on. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
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I finished this today and am still processing what I read. It's a horror/thriller/sci-fi combo that kept me turning the pages, that is fact. It's creepy and atmospheric and I FELT the sentient forest as it enclosed itself around the characters. It reminded me of a few other books I've read but this one kept me turning the page.

Dr. Siena Dupont is about to embark on the expedition of her dreams, a study that will advance her career and fulfill what her mentor had wanted to do with her before he died. Her three colleagues include a former fiance, her best friend and a young grad student. All are field scientists and plan to summit Mt. Agnes into the Deadswitch wilderness to study the ancient glacier Alpenglow. It's an idyllic start to the story but quickly grows tense when they find a dead body...in a tree. From there it's non-working satellite phones, a cabin, black shadows, a missing team member, or two, and bugs. There are even freakier scenes that I don't want to spoil for readers.

Meanwhile, almost one-thousand miles away an IT tech finds an audio file from Dr. Dupont hidden in a group of files he's supposed to scrub. Holden is chilled by what she has to say and urgently tries to find out who this person is so he can give the file to the proper people. This quest takes takes him on his own personal expedition.

The freak out factor is high in this book, the author has a wicked sense of how to creep out a reader. There's good inner tension amongst the characters trapped on Mt. Agnes. And Holden's crusade to save these strangers is almost a relief from the fear and anxiety. It's a good, strong story and to the author's credit, I didn't pitch a royal fit when I got to the cliffhanger ending because she ended it in a good way. Highly recommended.

(Thanks to Netgalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.)
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Wow was this book a fun ride. I love horror movies but haven’t read much horror, I might start reading more horror thanks to Briardark. Fantastically written!

Truly an incredible start to a horror series, I will definitely be picking up #2, whenever that may be. 
Thanks so much for the ARC NetGalley
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Thank you so much to Compass & Fern and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC; it is greatly appreciated.

FINALLY ! I have been wanting a spooky lost in the woods novel that would just completely immerse me for ages. This book is it ! It's touted as a combination of Lost and House of Leaves. While I never watched Lost, and don't know what sort of twists are present in that show, House of Leaves is my favorite book of all time, and I can confirm that this book has major HoL vibes and is a great comparison.

This book takes off quite quickly, and never dies down. I am honestly a bit shocked at how much crazy shit happens in here. As someone who absolutely loves to craft theories this book is right up my alley. It will keep you questioning everything and everyone. As this is the first book of a series, do not expect many answers. I know I'm going to be going crazy waiting for the second book.

Considering how quickly the plot gets going, this is a long book. I'd say from the 70-90% mark it does start to feel drawn out a bit, but then that last 10% is another gut punch. I think the first 50% of the story is my favorite, and is just the right amount of "WTF" for me. I do think for some it might get a bit overwhelming past this point, because there is a lot going on here, and it might be tough to keep track of everything.

This is a multi POV book, which I thought was going to be a downside for me in the beginning, but it actually fits into the story so well. It's easy to tell the characters apart, and they are fully devoloped, so no one feels like a throw away character. What they are feeling comes across the page effortlessly , and I felt so much freakin' anxiety reading this book.

The atmosphere, the fear, that feeling of not knowing what's real or not, retreating into your head to feel safe, etc. All these things are portrayed in a well done manner without being over descriptive. It's exactly the kind of read I've been searching for lately, and it makes my horror filled heart so happy. I 100% recommend it to horror fans, particularly if you love the deep, dark woods as a setting. If you loved House of Leaves, and enjoyed the show Dark, I think this book would be worth picking up.

Have I already found my favorite book of 2023 ? I might have ! I will for sure be picking up a physical copy of this book, and bring on 2024, because I absolutely need that sequel !
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