~ HALLOWEEN APPROVED ~
(This book, or part of it, is set at Halloween.)
This is a great read set through the month of October with the climax on Halloween.. ‘Thorn Jack’ captures the feel of Autumn. The brisk cold has the wind ripping leaves off trees. The Fae or Others, and their dead brought to life by the fairy folk, play their part. Add a Teind, a pact that must be satisfied for the Fae and their collected spirits to live another 100 years and the story starts to get interesting. Now, include a woman starting her first year at college in the sleepy Northeastern American town of Fair Hollow. After her sister and her mother took their own lives in California Finn and her father fled to heal from the loss. It’s a pretty fascinating concept, right? It also is a retelling of the old Scottish ballad Tam Lin. This book felt created especially for me based off my own personal interests. It is very good but it is also a book that fades in and out of greatness. The first near half of the book is close to perfect, however. Katherine Harbour has a way with words and created a beautiful world mixing the normal with otherness. It reminded me a bit of Charles De Lint’s writings.
Serafina Sullivan, better known as Finn, came to Fair Hollow with her father, the professor of myth and folklore, to escape constant reminders of the loss of her sister, Lily Rose. Someone, who we learn about through small portions of her journal. Finn and her father move into her late grandmothers house covered in carvings/pictures of fairies and anthropomorphic animals. It is a true example of the eccentric town that contains several other boarded up mansions belonging to old families of wealth and fortune. It has been a haven for the art/theatre community for years. Finn’s college takes liberal and unconventional to new levels, but the town love for celtic tradition appears to be more than nostalgia for lineage and roots. Finn and the close friends she makes get drawn into Fae mischief. Finn turns the eye of a Fairy Queen and her Jack. Their interest, and the why behind the interest is what this book is about. When Finn sees ties to the Fae in her sister’s journal it causes her to unabashedly rush down the rabbit hole in search of answers. The fact that she is attracted to the Jack only draws her further.
I recommend you read this book rather than listen to it. Kate Rudd narrates it and while she has done very well with other books, such as The Chronos Files Series by Rysa Walker, I preferred my own interpretation of Harbour’s writing. Listen to the snippet available prior to purchasing the audio version and make your own assessment.
The first half of this book I could not put down. Harbour’s writing is picturesque and I adored the originality. I recognize this is a retelling, and that Tam Lin itself is a romantic story of a woman who tricks the Fairy Queen to release her love/the Queen’s Jack from her clutches. My problem is I was so engrossed in Finn’s story of finding out what happened to her sister, who committed suicide and the reasons behind it, I was frustrated at being drawn away from that portion of the story. Ultimately, however, Harbour had to develop the tale of how Finn grows a new heart in the dead Jack. (A Jack is an Other, who at the bidding of the Fairy Queen, causes people to fall in love with them in the pursuit of mischief and.) The paranormal romance is not bad, but it did not have the same teeth that Finn’s search of the truth about her sister’s death has. The romance is predictable and typical of current YA/NA writing. The character interaction of Finn with her friend’s Sylvie and Christie loses its depth and realness at this point as well. I belive Harbour has great potential as an author. I hope the next stories in the series of Night and Nothing can be the level of the first half of this book all the way through. I believe Harbour can do it and I have been left curious. I’m assuming the stories will not be about Finn and Jack since this story feels so complete.
I recommend you pick this up is you like stories about the Fae. This is very good at leaning on real lore regarding the Fae from Celtic origins with interesting quotes from Shakespeare, Yeats, and Lady Gregory. It is definitely New Adult and paranormal romance but it is interesting. As I said I am interested in Harbour’s other work.