Title: Thorn Jack
Series: Night and Nothing #1
Author: Katherine Harbour
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
Source: Gifted from Jamie of Valia’s Page Turner, with the last round of the OTSP Secret Sister swap.
They call us things with teeth. These words from Lily Rose Sullivan the night of her death haunts her seventeen-year-old sister, Finn, who has moved with her widowed father to his hometown of Fair Hollow, New York. After befriending a boy named Christie Hart and his best friend, Sylvie Whitethorn, Finn is invited to a lakeside party where she encounters the alluring Jack Fata, a member of the town’s mysterious Fata family. Despite Jack’s air of danger and his clever words, Finn learns they have things in common.
One day, while unpacking, Finn finds her sister’s journal, scrawled with descriptions of creatures that bear a sinister resemblance to Jack’s family. Finn dismisses these stories as fiction, but Jack’s family has a secret—the Fatas are the children of nothing and night, nomadic beings who have been preying on humanity for centuries—and Jack fears that his friendship with Finn has drawn the attention of the most dangerous members of his family—Reiko Fata and vicious Caliban, otherwise known as the white snake and the crooked dog.
Plagued with nightmares about her sister, Finn attempts to discover what happened to Lily Rose and begins to suspect that the Fatas are somehow tied to Lily Rose’s untimely death. Drawn to Jack, determined to solve the mystery of her sister’s suicide, Finn must navigate a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems.
I had this on my wishlist (thanks, Jamie!) because it’s a retelling of Tam Lin, one of my favorite Scottish folk tales/ballads/stories. And it’s a cleverly done one- in fact, I wouldn’t call it a retelling so much as a story on its own that touches on Tam Lin toward the end. And I loved it.
I love dark fairytales (clearly- I love Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Juliet Marillier, and Laini Taylor), and this one was spot-on. It’s got beautiful writing with an air of sinister mystery. It’s also got romance, not the fluffy kind, a good family dynamic, an old New England town that I would absolutely live in, and some pretty great things to say about friendship. The characters are well developed and the pace is consistent throughout the book.
And honestly, one of my favorite things about it is the main character, Finn, reacts like a normal person to all the crazy stuff happening around her. She questions her sanity, she can’t quite accept the supernatural as supernatural, and she may have narcolepsy (or it may be something more vicious- we never really know). She doesn’t blithely stride through this dark underworld, she grapples with it. And her heroic qualities include her persistence and her unwillingness to become jaded.
I highly recommend this book to fellow fans of dark fairytales, especially if you’re charmed by somewhat-creepy old towns, believably flawed characters, and a host of fey references that you may or may not get as you go along.