Title: Thorn Jack
Author: Katherine Harbour
Publisher: Harper Voyager, June 2014
Series: Night and Nothing, Book 1
THE BOOK: Seraphina “Finn” Sullivan and her father have moved back to the small college town on the Hudson River where her father grew up, in part to get a new start after the suicide death of Finn’s sister Lily Rose. Finn enrolls at the college (although her age is not stated and she sometimes acts waaay too young to be going to college). Finn is taken under the wing of local boy Christie Hart and his best friend Sylvie, who try to warn her away from the handsome Jack Fata. She meets Jack at one of the Fata’s wild parties, whose only purpose seems to be to lure co-eds to their doom. The attraction in instant, and even though Jack’s mysterious family are also very much against the pair, she fights for him. When she discovers a link to the Fatas in her dead sister’s diary, FInn is only more determined to win Jack away from his family.
MY TAKE: This is a retelling of the fairy tale/ballad of Tam Lin, in which a mortal girl tries to steal back the man she loves from the fairies. Although marketed as an adult book, this first entry in a new series seems to be squarely in the YA or at least New Adult market. There is a sense that the author was imagining her characters already appearing on the WB when she wrote them, and there is a slick prettiness to the story — lots of description, strangely LOTS of description of clothes. But the writing unfortunately lacks polish, and the main character of Finn makes so many poor choices that I eventually lost patience (and sympathy) for her. Fatal for me in a novel. Fans of the Vampire Diaries or Twilight will probably enjoy, but this one left me cold. In fact, it left me longing for a really good fairy tale retelling, so I’ve gathered some of my favorites in another post.
THE GENRES: Fantasy: As dark fantasy goes, this gradually gets the job done of creating the dangerously beautiful Fata that both attract and repel. The solid bones of the tale of Tam Lin are there, but the unnecessarily complicated addition of the character of Nathan, the intended Teind, muddies the waters. Romance: This is one of those angsty romances where two people go from being complete strangers to being willing to die for each other in the blink of an eye. If that’s your catnip, I’m sure this romance will work for you. But I just kept wanting to shake Finn hard and tell her to snap out of it.
RATING: 4/10 Not without merit, but not my cup of tea.
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
- Tam Lin by Paula Dean
- The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay