Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour – Review

Cover- Thorn Jack

Published: June 24, 2014

Publisher: Harper Voyager

ISBN: 9780062286727

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

Rating: 4.5/5.0


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’ve wanted to read this book for quite awhile now, so when I found it on BookOutlet I knew I had to get it. This is a fairytale retelling but it’s a retelling of Tam Lin, which is Scottish in origin rather than the generic retellings of Disney fairy tales. This is also not what I would consider to be a YA fantasy story (yay!) and has some legitimately dark and creepy moments. After a tragic family situation, Finn Sullivan is starting college in a quaint New England town that is disturbing in a number of ways. There are people having woodland gatherings in costume, possible hauntings, and then there is the Fata family…

The Fata’s are creepy- they are wealthy, but no one knows where they live and there are old pictures of their relatives that look identical to them. Everything points at something wrong here, but Finn gets involved with them anyways, attending parties and inviting Jack Fata into her home when she barely knows him. You can’t just go inviting people in when the book is clearly about faeries. Which it is. Surprisingly, it ended up being a very appropriate pre-Halloween read and I really enjoyed it. I was even more excited to learn that there is a second book called Briar Queen.

I really liked how strange the town of Fair Hollow was- it was described as having all these huge dilapidated mansion, weird shops, and a liberal arts college with mythological décor that really belongs in a museum. Parties were hosted at the abandoned mansions by Reiko, Jack, and family on several occasions and they didn’t always turn out so well for the humans there. The people there (actual people, not faeries) were just as strange and unique as the mysterious Fata’s. Finn’s new friends Christy and Sylvie turn out to actually be humans, not otherworldly beings of nothing and night as I initially suspected. They are pretty awesome friends, too. They stick with Finn through thick and thin, helping her in her mad schemes to uncover secrets and eventually help Jack.

Thorn Jack was enchanting. That is literally the only way I can describe something so beautiful and haunting at the same time. I loved each of the characters- they all had such depth and personality that they really just came alive in my mind. Jack was great- his slowly revealed history was stunningly heartbreaking and I was rooting for Finn+Jack the whole way through. Characters like Caliban and Reiko were disgustingly cruel at times, but aren’t faeries supposed to be monsters? Thorn Jack is THE BEST faerie tale I’ve read since the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, and may be even better than that. It’s a must read for anyone who likes faerie stories, urban fantasy, or retellings.


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