Cover Image: Briardark


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Member Reviews

*Thanks to NetGalley and Compass and Fern for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review.*

I REALLY enjoyed this book! I went into this not really knowing what to expect, but this was the perfect blend of cosmic horror, sci-fi, and mystery elements. I was immediately drawn to read this when I saw it compared to House of Leaves and Lost, but it also gave me serious Annihilation vibes which I loved!

This story follows a few different timelines/events. Dr. Siena Dupont and her team of researchers are on an expedition to analyze a glacier in the Deadswitch Wilderness. As they make their way to their destination things aren't as they should be- their map doesn't align with the trails they're following and the glacier has somehow melted by the time they arrive. Their satellite phone won't work and they're seemingly stranded with no way to get off of the mountain.

Holden Sharpe is an IT employee who is responsible for wiping university hard drives. At work one day he finds a drive with Siena Dupont's audio files and what he hears doesn't sound good. The expedition has gone wrong and they find one of their team members dead. As he listens to more of these voice memos he gets pulled into this story and tries to uncover what happened in the Deadswitch WIlderness.

This did a great job of conveying the eeriness of being isolated in the wilderness with no way to escape. I really liked Holden's banter with Angel who is helping him with the investigation. I also loved the mixed media elements throughout, including excerpts from a true crime book about another incident from Deadswitch Wilderness, and it made it a more compelling read. My only issue was that a few of the characters felt very flat and there were times when I had to remind myself which character's perspective we were reading from because there weren't very distinctive voices and personalities.

Overall I had a great time reading this one and I can't wait for the sequel to come out!

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Don't go into the woods!! Just don't!!!

Briardark is an absolutely stunning cosmic tale. Making you question what the heck is actually happening while becoming mesmerized all at the same time

Following two plots during different time lines may confuse you in the very beginning but as things start to unravel and become easier to decipher and things start to connect and make much more sense. Trust me

With atmospheric descriptions that will give you the absolute HEEBIE JEEBIES and wanting to grab the bug spray immedietly

Making a great beginning read into science fiction as the science doesn't do deep dives into explanation but instead just touching on certain concepts

And the ambiguous plot line keeping you guessing leaving things wide open to have you as a reader interpreting things in your own way

The cliffhanger leaving you with so many questions and with huge anticipation for the second installment into the series

Thank you to @netgalley @s.a.harian for the advanced readers copy in exchange for my honost thoughts and opinions. Bring on Waywarden

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Briardark follows a team of researchers and geomorphologists (please don’t ask me what that is) who enter the Deadswitch wilderness in the Sierra mountain range in an attempt to pick up the research of the principal investigator Dr. Siena Dupont’s late mentor. He was researching some anomalous glacial activity. Except when they get there, there is no glacier. Just water. And from there on out things just get progressively weirder and more sinister. Maps no longer line up. Things (and people) disappear and appear out of thin air.

And then Holden, an OSU (Oregon State University) IT employee is going about his daily business of wiping unneeded data from old drives and re-distributing them when he comes across Siena’s recordings from Deadswitch. He gets pulled into this slowly unraveling and increasingly bizarre mystery. For one thing, the audio files seem to periodically unlock/un-corrupt themselves. Whhhhyyyyyy?!
The moral of this story should probably be: stop hanging out in the creepy woods if you don’t like when creepy stuff happens. Stay inside. Be safe. Read scary books instead.

I promise you’ll have loads of fun tagging along as Holden digs into this weird situation, drawing others in with him as he tries to discover what has, and maybe still is happening in the Deadswitch wilderness.

If you enjoy books that explore themes like found footage, missing persons cases, wilderness survival, disappearing corpses, timey-wimeys, or obscure cult business, I think you’re really going to dig this one.

I am really looking forward to the next entry in the Briardark series. This first entry was a wealth of ratcheting tension and mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat (figuratively).

*note: this review goes live on my website on Feb. 28, 2024*

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Briardark is a dark and atmospheric horror novel that will leave you feeling unsettled long after you finish reading it. The story follows Dr. Siena Dupont and her team of scientists as they embark on an expedition to the Alpenglow glacier in search of a mysterious artifact.

But what they find is something much more terrifying than they could have ever imagined. The glacier is home to a dark and ancient force, and Siena and her team soon find themselves trapped in a nightmare world where nothing is as it seems.

Harian does a masterful job of creating a sense of suspense and dread throughout the novel. The reader is constantly wondering what is going to happen next, and the atmosphere of the glacier is truly chilling. The story is also full of disturbing imagery and Lovecraftian horror elements, which will make your skin crawl.

One of the things I enjoyed most about Briardark is the complex and well-developed characters. Siena is a strong and resourceful protagonist, and her team members are all unique and interesting. Harian also does a good job of exploring the relationships between the characters, which makes the story even more engaging.

Overall, Briardark is an excellent horror novel that I highly recommend. It is well-written, suspenseful, and thought-provoking. If you are a fan of horror novels, then you will definitely want to check this one out.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review. Unfortunately I don't think this was one made for me. I started reading it and soon discovered that it was a bit slow. It took quite a while for the story line to develop. It did had a good ambience but it took a lot to imagine the scenes, I feel like that could have been expanded more.

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I did not finish this one, it was not for me, I couldn't relate to the characters, and just did not care for the story.

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I received a free copy of Briardark from Netgalley and Compass and Fern in exchange for an honest review.
The publisher calls Briardark a “cosmic horror” and I don’t think I could hit the nail on the head any more perfectly. Perhaps: If Cthulu were a forest instead of a creature. Lovecraft would be enamoured with this dimension-clashing fever-dream.
I originally thought this was a standalone novel and I was loving every part of it. There was no way I was going to stop reading until I got to the end and figured out what was up with the Alpenglow glacier. Then the cliffhanger came. I was floored. Waiting for the next book is going to be so tough! I can’t wait to see how Siena and Holden’s stories end.

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Thank you to Compas and Fern LLC for my copy of the book they shared through Netgalley!

Favorite Quote

“Why believe in jinxes when you can believe in manifestation?”

First Line

“After everything Avery had been through, she wasn’t about to die from some damn lightning bolt.”

Rating Guide Questions
*Did the story catch your attention, after reading the first 1-3 paragraphs, enough for you not to be able to put it down? And if not, did it become ‘gripping’ at some point?
- 5. That was an intriguing, semi-action-packed prologue so definitely.

*Was the solution/plot twist convincing enough?
- 4.5. It is but I could not explain the -0.5 without spoiling the story so that's it.

*Did the story leave a significant impact in your mind e.g. led you to an epiphany, or made you reflect on life and its complexities?
- 5. No, but I really enjoyed the story and I’m curious about what’s gonna happen next so still giving it a 5.

*How about the characters? Were they well-developed? For "unreliable narrator", were they written well enough for you to doubt your own sanity, jk, for you to believe them for a second?
-5. The storytelling is in 3rd person’s POV but definitely the characters are well-written. They’re very distinct from each other so it was easy to get into the story and into their world.

*For romance, both as a main plot and as a subplot, were the relationships between the characters to your liking?
-4.5. Ex-lovers working together. Guy still pining and worries. Good trope but there’s miscommunication and I do not like that.

*How was the climax and resolution of the story for you?
-4. There was anti-climactic feel to it because there was so much build-up on the chapters before it. Though thinking about it now, because of the build-up I had a feeling something was coming and was bracing myself for it.

*If it's a book series, can't you wait to read what happens next?
-5. Definitely! I think I’m invested now and will be watching out for this series and even all of Sarah’s work.

*Will you recommend it to someone?
-5. To anyone who loves the mystery/horror/thriller genre, you have to check this out!

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It's a very good books for who love dark atmospheres and horror books. It's kind of tv series like Dark, 1899 and The AOT.

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First, thank you Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Brairdark follows the story of a team of researchers who set out to conduct research on a glacier location in the Deadswitch Wilderness. Dr. Siena Dupont knows that this expedition is a chance of a life time for her and her team. This will change their lives forever (in more way than one).

Their first night, camping off trail ends with a dead body appearing and disappearing right in front of them. In addition to the mysterious body of an unknown hiker, the map that the team is using to navigate no longer matches the trail ahead of them, and the glacier they are here to research melted.

Holden works for the college in their IT department. When he comes across a decommissioned hard drive with strange message from a research team, he knows something is wrong. But when he tries to investigate, all he runs into are hurdles and dead ends.

To say that i enjoyed this book is an understatement. I love the juxtaposition that the author creates as she is merging these to story lines. The pacing they have created throughout the book, reenacts the breathing patterns of a hiker on the trail. This helps the reader quickly connect with the characters throughout the book. There are multiple POVs and timeline jumps with each new chapter. The author is not just focusing on who the reader assumes are the main characters, but all the expedition team members. There are secrets and each secret is coming back to haunt the team. The imagery created throughout the story made me feel as though I was part of the research team. There are characters that the reader will like and there are those that, the reader would rather watch as they fall off a cliff.

There are moments when the the writing becomes redundant which can throw a reader off as they read. These moments for me, were few and far between. It also took a couple of chapters for me to pick up the pacing of the story.

I would say that this makes it to the list of my top reads for the year!

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Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC of Briardark. I really enjoyed the writing style of S A. Harian. The pacing was decent although lagged from time to time. The story line went in a totally different direction from where I thought it was going. A little more science fictiony than I usually read. Overall really liked the book and look forward to reading the next installment!

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Creepy, well written, great setting, I could keep going! I love a good spooky story and this one did not disappoint. Bonus points for an AMAZING cover!

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I'm not going to continue in the series.

While I liked a couple of the characters, the pacing was slow for me. I almost DNF'd this a couple of times. Each time, the author would then write something else that would draw me back in. That was good, except then the pacing would slow again.

It soon became clear (and this was my biggest problem) that there would be no real ending to this. I'm okay with a cliffhanger when there's still something satisfying about how the book ends, but this is more...simple continuation of the story.

While not for me, it's also not a bad read. It definitely should work for others.

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If you enjoy Lost and Dark. Both incredible tv shows, then Briardark is going to be right up your alley. It pulls you in right from the first chapter and has such a fast moving plot that jumps from one place to the next, but in the best possible way. You will have no idea where the story is going, and the ending of this book is a cliffhanger, but it leaves you looking forward to what might come next. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

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I love this story. I grew up in the PNW woods, & I enjoy hiking. Going on a hike where everything around you changes is a horrifying thought. This book triggers my existential dread (yay), but it's worth it. I'm just upset that it was such an abrupt cliffhanger & now I have to wait for the sequel.

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Actual rating of 4.75

For Dr. Siena Dupont and her team, their expedition to the Alpenglow Glacier is career defining. This is the expedition that is going to bring them everything they're wishing for, and more. However, early on the expedition begins to take a turn for the weird. Beginning with their map not being correct, to finding a dead body in a tree, only for it to disappear again without a trace, and then they find that the glacier they're meant to be studying, has melted. They soon realise that there is strange foliage throughout the forest and come across a tunnel that leads to a cabin and a stranger with a haunting message...
Holden is an IT specialist and his job is to clear out old hard drives and make note of any files that may be of importance. When he comes across a drive full of mostly corrupted data, he thinks nothing of it, until he finds a file he can access. The audio file is from Dr. Sienna Dupont and is a harrowing entry declaring an expedition that went sideways, and ended in the death of a colleague. Holden becomes entranced by the mystery he has stumbled upon, and soon he is desperate to know the fate of Dupont and her team. As he goes down the rabbit hole, he is unprepared for the truth that will draw him out to the Deadswitch Wilderness, a place where nightmares and danger live...Will he find out the fate of Dupont and her team? Or is he destined to end up exactly how they did...however that is?

I had this book on my TBR list for SO long and I am SO mad at myself for not getting to it sooner. I started it two or three times then had to put it down because I realised I had hard deadlines on a couple of other ARCs that I had received. When I finally was able to get into this, I was freaking hooked. I could not put it down and the story just drew me in and would not let go. This story gave me Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation vibes crossed with ....I don't even know...maybe Predator adjacent vibes? Whatever it was, I was here for it and ate every single page up like a starving scientist trapped in a strange, foreboding forest.

This story is told through alternating POVs and timelines. One is through the view of Siena Dupont, and takes us through the expedition as it's happening. The other is through the view of Holden, our IT specialist who finds himself enamoured with the Alpenglow Expedition and uncovering the truth about what happened to the research team that went up there. I really enjoyed both points of view, normally I'll prefer one over the other, but for this read, they were pretty on par and I didn't feel bored with either or hoping to switch back to the other at all. Both POVs really added depth and dimension to the story and I feel like really made this story into the best version of itself as we got to see things from two different perspectives and timelines. I feel like the dual POV also helped to add to the suspense as you were never too sure what was going to happen next.

The characters were incredibly well written, and I enjoyed every single one of them. They each had their own distinct personalities and individual voices. There was a wonderful depth to all of them and each had their own unique flaws, issues and strengths. I love characters that aren't perfect, who struggle with things, this always makes the characters more real to me and more relatable as well. I have questions about a couple of them, but I know that there is a second one on the way, so I'm hoping we get more information and some of the character relationships are explored more, which I'm sure we will get both of these things. I'm incredibly interested to learn more about the gamer who went missing before the expedition took place and how that whole thing ties in. It was beginning to give me vibes like the movie Stay Alive, which I LOVE, so I'm keen to go deeper down that rabbit hole.

The story itself was incredibly gripping, as stated at the beginning of this review. The suspense was fantastic and the atmosphere that Harian was able to create in this world was phenomenal. I actually got spikes of anxiety, fear and dread while reading this, so it's always a winner in my eyes when a book can illicit real emotions through a fictional medium. The pacing was fantastic, but I will admit that it did drop a little bit towards the end of the novel when things took a turn that I wasn't entirely expecting. I knew what was being alluded to but this turned into something that I guess could be seen on the scale of cosmic horror, and this does tend to throw me a little when I'm not expecting it. In saying that, it's not a bad thing at all, being able to surprise me is always a good thing as a lot of books I'm able to pick the path the story is going to take, or the reason behind certain events, and that's only because I've read a lot of different books, so it's hard to find something truly unique. In all honesty that was the only reason that I dropped a portion of a star, my excitement for where the story was heading dipped a little at that point, it did pick back up once the story began to move again at a steady clip, but I have no doubt that I'm going to be blown away by where the story heads in book 2.

All in all, this was a pleasantly surprising read, and I'm mad that I put it down so many times due to review deadlines on other books. If you're looking for a horror story that really does feel unique, with characters that you can really get behind, and even a character or two that you kinda want to punch in the face, give this one a go. The hype around this one is real, and I highly recommend it. I am HANGING for book 2!

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Holy moly, that was scary and creepy. I loved everything about this book. The cover is what originally peaked my interest and then I started reading and I couldn't put it down. I'm too much of a wuss to go backpacking in the woods but it's one of my favorite settings in a book. I loved how this encompassed horror, sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, and mystery all into one book and honestly had my brain scrambled, but in a really good way. It was one of those books where I thought I had everything figured out but then all of the twists started and I realized how very wrong I was. I loved how the story was told from multiple POVs, especially when it's done as well as this book was. I was a little disappointed with the ending only because it left off on a huge cliffhanger but I am now beyond excited to read the second book when it comes out and continue on with the creepiness. S.A. Harian is now without a doubt one of my favorite authors.

Many thanks to Compass & Fern for the gifted coy for my honest review.

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This story is brilliant. The plot had my heart racing and gave me goosebumps. I couldn't put this one down. It has everything you need in a heart stopping book.

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Thank you tl Netgalley and the publisher for approving me for an advanced reader copy of Briardark ahead of publication.

It'a important to understand what you're getting here. This is less genre, more existential horror in the vein of The Darkness Between Trees. That's not really my thing at all. However, if you like psychological horror, nonlinear storytelling, and a LOT of nature, this might be up your alley.

Three stars.

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A must read for fellow fans of Yellowjackets, Annihilation, The Forest game, and the recent show Significant Other. S.A. Harian’s Briardark is an excellent psychological thriller with hints of sci-fi, and an interesting gamer/streamer perspective. I was as surprised as anyone to read the words Dead Space pop up in character, but it made me enjoy this cast even more. It’s a bit of a long read that does begin to drag towards the third act, but I cannot wait to continue the exhilarating and often times creepy mystery in the follow up book! This would make for an excellent mini-series or movie.

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