REVIEW: "The Harrowing", by Alexandra Sokoloff

Title: The Harrowing
Author: Alexandra Sokoloff
Format: Paperback
Pages: 280 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: August 22nd 2006

Taken from Goodreads

Baird College Mendenhall echoes with the footsteps of the last home-bound students heading off for Thanksgiving break, and Robin Stone swears she can feel the creepy, hundred-year-old residence hall breathe a sigh of relief for its long-awaited solitude. Or perhaps it's only gathering itself for the coming weekend.

As a massive storm dumps rain on the isolated campus, four other lonely students reveal themselves: Patrick, a handsome jock; Lisa, a manipulative tease; Cain, a brooding musician; and finally Martin, a scholarly eccentric. Each has forsaken a long weekend at home for their own secret reasons.

The five unlikely companions establish a tentative rapport, but they soon become aware of a sixth presence disturbing the ominous silence that pervades the building. Are they the victims of a simple college prank taken way too far, or is the unusual energy evidence of something genuine---and intent on using the five students for its own terrifying ends? It's only Thursday afternoon, and they have three long days and dark nights before the rest of the world returns to find out what's become of them. But for now it's just the darkness keeping company with five students nobody wants and no one will miss.


Somewhere between my little-girl love of Enid Blyton and my adolescent (and beyond) adoration of Stephen King, there's a space which could be aptly labelled the “Point and Pike Years”. During these years, I gorged on books in the Point Horror series and devoured everything Christopher Pike wrote. 

While I'm sure many people would sneer at such things, I can honestly say that those books told some of the best stories I've ever encountered! Maybe that's why I have a not-at-all-secret love of YA literature. The stories are often so damn good. 

During university (where I studied English Literature), my reading diet was pretentious. Don't get me wrong, I love a whole bunch of The Classics and think that everyone should give 'em a go. But while I was bogged down in a Middle English edition of Beowolf, I remember dreaming of the times when I could pick up a book and just enjoy the story! I remember wishing that there was a “grown up” equivalent of Point Horror...

Sokoloff's The Harrowing is a book which meets that demand. The story is about a group of students who are stuck in student halls over Thanksgiving, due to their crappy home-lives. While tolerating each other's company for the holiday, the students decide to play around with a Ouija board. 

Those of you familiar with the sorts of premises of Point and Pike will nod your heads when I put it to you that the idea sounds very reminiscent, right? Right. 

The story was nothing original. The characters were predictably troubled and the ghostly-goings-on were fairly run of the mill. But it was a comfortable familiarity. As the book is fairly short at 280 pages, it was a quick read. It almost felt watching a movie on the Horror Channel: a bit cheesy, a bit predictable, sometimes creepy but nonetheless enjoyable. 

I read this book after getting home from the cinema where I'd watched The Cabin In The Woods. This was kind of a mistake! I won't say much as I don't want to give too much away about said movie, but I will say to those of you who have seen it that the five characters-types discussed in the film all appeared in this book! I already knew The Harrowing was a bit formulaic, but the appearance of those archetypes made me chuckle. 

Overall, this gave me a pleasant afternoon of reading. It was predictable, easy and familiar. I got the book at a bootsale and paid 20p for it, so I'm not devastated that my socks weren't blown off. It was good! I'm awarding it a solid three stars.

Happy reading! Lx


  1. I have this on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I read her novel, The Price, a couple years back and thought that was a darned good read. Might want to give that a chance if you ever come across if.

    1. Ooo, thanks for the recommendation! I'll keep an eye out for it and will add it to my Goodreads wishlist! :)


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