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‘The Harrowing’ OGN (review)

Written by Kristen Kiesling 
Art by Rye Hickman
Published by Abrams Books


This young adult graphic novel is a lot more intense and in depth than I originally thought possible.

It blends genres pretty well and I loved the different places that it took me as a reader.

After I finished it, it certainly lingered in my mind for quite awhile after and I will probably reread it at some point to revisit this world.

It is an interesting book that grabs you from page one and it really doesn’t let up until that final page.

At the heart of the story is Rowan Sterling.

Rowan is an 17 year old girl who is dealing with things that a lot of 17 year olds have to deal with. She struggles with the day to day struggles of being a teenager, for instance. Another struggle is wondering if Lucas is her friend or is he possibly be looking for something more? Does she even want something more?

There are a few of these questions that happen as we get settled into the book, but there is definitely a bigger issues for Rowan that is happening.

The big thing that is happening to Rowan is that she has developed psychic abilities.

We get to see Rowan deal with her newfound abilities in the best way she can. We get to see the toll that it takes on her and on her personal relationships. It changes her, and how can you expect it not to? She handles it the best she possibly can. Just when you think she’s got it all settled, something dark happens.

Rowan has stumbled upon a conspiracy with her psychic abilities. She is having visions of dark violence and she isn’t sure how to deal with it. We get to see her struggle and her pain in trying to do so but it isn’t easy. She keeps getting these premonitions and they keep getting more and more intense.

At one point, they almost become too much for Rowan to handle. It looks like she is losing it.

Rowan goes and looks to her father for help.

Seems logical, right?

But that ends up being a huge mistake for her as she finds herself drugged and kidnapped in one particular harrowing scene. She eventually wakes up and finds herself in a facility called Rosewood.

Why was she sent here? What does it all mean?

It seems like it might be a boarding school, but we find out quickly that it is anything but that.

Rosewood turns out to be a facility for teens with special abilities. Yes, it did remind me a bit of the X-Men, but thankfully the creative team are able to make their own mark with these characters. The kids at the school are called the Harrows and they all have the same kinds of abilities that Rowan has. The scientists at Rosewood believe that the Harrows have to use their abilities to see crime and stop it .

We then see that Rowan is drawn to the mission of the Harrows as she lost her mother due to a random act of violence two years earlier.

She learns everything she can from them and tries to soak up the lessons that they teach her. She then returns home but cannot get the lessons that she learned out of her head. It is then that she gets a premonition that Lucas might in fact be in danger. She takes it upon herself to act.

What follows from there it insane. It is fast, violent, and above all else, emotional.

That’s because the creative team is so good at what they do.

Rowan is so well developed as a character that I was with her the entire time. There isn’t a single beat in the story that feels false. The whole thing leads to a crazy conclusion that I didn’t see coming. It does make sense in the grand scheme of things. Still, it doesn’t make it any less hard hitting than it is.

Kristen Kiesling writes a terrific tale here and it really has me going. I love the characters and I was with them the whole time. Likewise, Rye Hickman’s artwork is perfect for this. The compositions are great and the figure work is perfect.

I really enjoyed this book and I definitely have to read it again. It unexpectedly gave me one of the better reads of the year.


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