"A spooky and fast moving plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the shocking end."
Reviewed by Lynn Cunningham
Posted January 7, 2012
Young Adult | Fantasy
Dawn Christian has known she is psychic since the age of
seven. These abilities have kept her feeling that she's an
outcast among other kids as well as among her family. Her
own mother has always done everything possible to discourage
Dawn's powers and tried to keep her from using them. The
problem with that is these powers aren't going anywhere. In
spite of herself, the abilities seem to grow stronger all
the time. Although she's kept them a secret from nearly
everyone, she can't stop the warnings that come to her when
something bad is about to happen.
The death of Dawn's father when she was young left Dawn and
her mother alone for many years but now Dawn's mother has
met and married a wonderful man named Jeff. They move in
with Jeff and his son, Ken, and go about starting a new
life; at least that's what the hope is. However, on the
morning that Dawn is to begin attending her brand new
school, she wakes up with that "feeling." Something terrible
is going to happen.
She tries to talk to her mother about it but Anne is having
no part of it. The only thing she wants is for Dawn to fit
in and start acting "normally." So Dawn goes off to school
with this feeling of foreboding. Once she arrives at school,
things don't get a lot better. However, before the end of
the day, she's managed to connect with a couple of girls,
Candace and Jamie, who introduce her to the town psychic.
It seems that Candace has her own abilities and Jamie really
WANTS to have them. The psychic, Serena, is teaching them
how to develop their abilities and make them stronger. Dawn
is pretty excited to be included in a group of people that
finally accept her and her powers. Not only do they accept
them, but they embrace them and think Dawn's pretty amazing.
Dawn begins to visit Serena with Candace and Jamie regularly
and, sure enough, her powers DO become stronger. But she's
still getting that warning voice in her head and soon tragic
things begin to happen. Is Dawn a part of something positive
or has she inadvertently plunged directly into the middle of
something dark and evil?
In this day and age, when it seems that most teenagers are
more interested in playing video games rather than reading,
DARK BEFORE DAWN is one of those rare books that has the
ability to pull these kids away from the games. Although
it's a book that seems geared more towards teenagers, it's
actually a exciting read for any age from about 12 up can
enjoy. As I read it, I kept seeing it as a movie. Stacy Juba
is a quite a versatile writer and each of her books carry a
unique plot that will capture you from the first page and
hold you until the final sentence. DARK BEFORE DAWN is a
special book that should not be missed.
Dawn Christian has been psychic since she was seven years
old and has always considered herself an outcast. Even her
own mother discourages her talent, so Dawn has kept her
abilities quiet and feared a lifetime of loneliness. When
she gets involved with a fortuneteller and two teenage girls
who share her mysterious perception, Dawn finally belongs to
As her intuition strengthens, so does Dawn’s self esteem.
However, when she learns her new friends may be tied to two
bizarre murders, she has an important choice to make –
continue developing the talent that makes her special, or
challenge the only people who have ever accepted her.
Dawn Christian curled under the covers, shivering in her
nightshirt. Goosebumps had popped up on her bare arms. She
breathed in and out, trying to calm herself. Even the safety
of darkness couldn't hide it.
Something was wrong.
She knew it the same way she had known it would rain
despite the weather report. Now gray clouds blistered
outside the window.
I can't go, I can't go, I can't go, something bad's
going to happen. Dawn rubbed between her eyebrows, the
message flying around inside her brain like a loose pinball.
The red numbers of her alarm clock flickered to 6:29.
Dawn rolled onto her other side and faced the wall. In an
hour, she'd be starting her junior year at a lame new high
school. She missed Boston and taking the T, the city’s
subway system, wherever she wanted to go. Dawn used to hang
out at museums, watch the college kids in Harvard Square and
read books at the Common. Sometimes, she and her mother
caught Saturday matinees in the theater district.
Not anymore. Ever since the wedding in July, Dawn had
been stuck in Covington, Maine, a beach town overflowing
with rinky dink carnival rides, cheesy souvenir stores and
"Dawn?" She turned to find her mother framed in the
dimly lit doorway, fully dressed. "Are you coming down for
"I'm not hungry."
"Nervous about school?"
Gulping, Dawn huddled under the blankets. No way could
she discuss her feeling with her mom. Her mother wanted a
normal daughter who was on the basketball team or school
newspaper, had friends and didn’t live in fear. "Kind of."
Her mother lowered herself onto the bed and squeezed
Dawn’s hand. Her manicured pink nails shone against Dawn’s
pale skin. Since meeting Jeff eight months ago, Dawn's
mother had been letting her curly hair hang loose and
She smoothed back a tangle of Dawn’s chestnut waves.
"You don’t look like yourself. Do you feel all right?"
"I’m fine." Dawn shoved her stuffed monkey, Buddy,
further under the blankets. Her father gave her Buddy
shortly before he died, and holding it was like hugging a
piece of her dad. Still, sleeping with a toy monkey was
kiddish and Dawn didn’t do it often. Her mother would get
suspicious if she noticed.
Darn it. Her mother drew out Buddy by his slender tail
and patted his furry brown head. "Calling in the
reinforcements, huh? What’s on your mind, honey? Maybe I can
Dawn sat up and clasped her knees. Her mother never
understood about Dawn’s hunches. "I don’t think you really
want to know, Mom."
"Of course I do."
Yeah, right. But Dawn didn’t have the stamina for lying
today. "I’m getting one of my premonitions. Something’s
wrong. I think it has to do with school."
She waited and sure enough, her mother got the
frightened look she’d worn too many times before. Dawn
remembered the look that terrible night with Mrs. Frazier
... but she didn’t want to think about that.
Her mother dropped Buddy onto the mattress and squirmed
as if fighting off a chill. "I’m sure it’s just regular old
nerves," she said in an overly cheerful voice. "It’s hard
enough adjusting to a new home and a new family without
throwing a new school into the picture. Who wouldn’t feel edgy?"
"That’s not it, Mom."
"Just be normal. Don’t worry about your premonitions.
You shouldn’t have to live your life afraid."
"Get real, Mom. I’ll never be normal and fit in."
"If you paid more attention to talking with the other
kids, and less to these visions and feelings, things would
be so much easier for you."
How many times had she heard her mother say that? Dawn
rolled her eyes. "This is why I didn’t want to talk about
it. I can’t help that I ‘know’ things, Mom. The only way I
can keep that stuff secret is by never opening my mouth.
Then the other kids think I’m a snob."
"Being different is no reason to separate yourself.
You’ve been through a lot already, honey, and I want you to
be happy here. We have a fresh start. If you pushed your
feelings to the back of your mind and stopped working
yourself up over them, maybe they’ll stop coming." Her
mother offered a brittle smile.
That was like asking Dawn to walk around blindfolded,
or to stuff earplugs in her ears, giving up one of her
senses. She couldn’t just shut off her feelings. They were
too overpowering, demanding attention.
"You made me promise to hide my abilities around Ken
and Jeff," Dawn said. "Okay, I want them to like me, but I
shouldn’t have to hide things around you. Why can’t you just
Her mother slipped an arm around her shoulders. "I’m
trying to help you, honey. You need to tell yourself that
your imagination is running wild and you’ve got normal
jitters. Do you understand what I’m saying?"
Dawn’s jaw tensed. Her mother deserved an Oscar. She
had an amazing knack for pretending Dawn suffered normal
teenage angst, acting as if they were on some TV drama when
the truth was closer to the Stephen King movie Carrie.
"Whenever I’m in a new situation, I say hi to the
person sitting next to me and do my best to start a
conversation," her mother went on. "Maybe that would work
Dawn took a few breaths to contain herself, then
muttered, "I'll try."
Her mother's face lit up with relief. Dawn accepted her
hug, inhaling the scents of Dove soap and raspberry body
spray, but rather than make her feel better, the embrace
ticked off Dawn even more. Did her mom really believe
everything was solved? Dawn clamped her lips shut to keep
back the harsh words brimming on her tongue.
"You're smart, you're pretty, you're sweet," her mother
said. "The kids at Covington High will love you. Ken’s
willing to give you a ride. Isn’t that great? I’d drive you
myself, but I think it would be better if you’re not seen
with your uncool old mother."
Her mother retreated downstairs to make breakfast. Dawn
pushed back the covers. She knew her mom meant well. Since
her dad’s death when Dawn was in first grade, life had
sucked for both of them. They’d had lonely dinners, lonely
holidays, lonely vacations. Having each other made it
bearable. Now they had a chance to start over.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as her mother believed.
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