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Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel: 1 Paperback – 23 March 2015
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Combining the sorcery of The Night Circus with the malefic suspense of A Secret History, Thorn Jack is a spectacular, modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad, Tam Lin—a beguiling fusion of love, fantasy, and myth that echoes the imaginative artistry of the works of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr.
In the wake of her older sister’s suicide, Finn Sullivan and her father move to a quaint town in upstate New York. Populated with socialites, hippies, and dramatic artists, every corner of this new place holds bright possibilities—and dark enigmas, including the devastatingly attractive Jack Fata, scion of one of the town’s most powerful families.
As she begins to settle in, Finn discovers that beneath its pretty, placid surface, the town and its denizens—especially the Fata family—wield an irresistible charm and dangerous power, a tempting and terrifying blend of good and evil, magic and mystery, that holds dangerous consequences for an innocent and curious girl like Finn.
To free herself and save her beloved Jack, Finn must confront the fearsome Fata family . . . a battle that will lead to shocking secrets about her sister’s death.
"Fantasy fans will find much to savor in Harbour's delicate, myth-conscious prose." -- Publishers Weekly
"Influenced by luminaries like Tanith Lee and Crowley, Harbour delivers an excellent, promising debut novel." -- Romantic Times Book Reviews (James Davis Nicoll)
"Now [Tam Lin] emerges again, artfully recreated by debut novelist Katherine Harbour." -- Barnes and Noble Picks for June (James Killen)
"Thorn Jack is highly recommended, particularly for those who like their fairy tales dark, enthralling, and a wee bit disturbing." -- Fresh Fiction
"An engaging and entertaining story, offering mystery, frights, young romance, and a chance to brush up on your mythology." -- FantasyBookCritic.com
From the Back Cover
A spectacular modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad of Tam Lin--a beguiling fusion of love, fantasy, and myth that echoes the imaginative artistry of the works of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Kami Garcia
In the wake of her older sister's suicide, Finn Sullivan and her father move to a quaint town in upstate New York. Populated with socialites, hippies, and dramatic artists, every corner of this new place holds bright possibilities--and dark enigmas, including the devastatingly attractive Jack Fata, scion of one of the town's most powerful families.
As she begins to settle in, Finn discovers that beneath its pretty, placid surface, the town and its denizens--especially the Fata family--wield an irresistible charm and dangerous power, a tempting and terrifying blend of good and evil, magic and mystery, that holds dangerous consequences for an innocent and curious girl like Finn.
To free herself and save her beloved Jack, Finn must confront the fearsome Fata family . . . in a battle that will lead to shocking secrets about her sister's death.
- Publisher : HarperCollins US; Reprint edition (23 March 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062286730
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062286734
- Dimensions : 2.79 x 17.02 x 22.1 cm
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Top review from Australia
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And "Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel" is one of the best adaptations that I have seen, bringing the story to a modern day small college town. Katherine Harbour's writing is intoxicatingly lyrical ("a voice like ashes and velvet") and she weaves a spellbinding web of romance and otherworldly fantasy. Think Holly Black by way of Neil Gaiman.
After her sister's suicide, Finn and her father move to her grandmother's old house in Fair Hollow, hoping to get a fresh start. She also begins attending HallowHeart, a local college awash in myth and folklore, and filled with fun courses like "Symbols in Body Art" (tattoos), "The Mask in Theatre" and "Scandals in Biblical History." She makes some oddball friends, a few enemies, and learns a bit about the spooky folklore that permeates Fair Hollow life -- including a prediction that she will die on All Hallow's Eve.
Then during a lakeside party, she encounters the Fata siblings, Reiko and Jack. Obviously, there is something very odd about the Fatas, and Jack quickly takes an interest in Finn. But strange things begin to happen to Finn, as she begins to discover that Reiko has a strange hold over her "brother" -- and that Finn may be the only one who can set him free, if she can triumph over dark, tricky forces.
"Thorn Jack" is a novel awash in poetry, violins, leaves, ribbons and masks. Like the old-world HallowHeart, it has a poetic, eccentric beauty that seems both modern and very old and lushly poetic -- which seems appropriate since it mingles the traditional "Tam Lin" tale with the tale of a young college freshman finding her way in a brand new city.
And Katherine Harbour spins her tale in a hauntingly lovely manner, with scenes that feel like dreams (Reiko's final clash with Finn) written in lush, lyrical prose ("The young man before him seemed sculpted from moonlight, autumn leaves, and ice"). She also peppers the story with things that she clearly loves, like poets, certain novels, folktales, Renfaire-clothes, Celtic folk-punk and even descriptions of fairy-tale-like Victorian houses.
She also grasps the faerie folk as few authors do -- the scenes with them are shifting, shadowy and clearly dangerous, flickering between the real and the dreamlike. And Reiko is pretty scary, even from her first innocuous appearance.
Finn is one of those heroines that it takes a little time to warm up to, but you end up really liking her once she settles into her groove -- she's sensible, somewhat snarky, but also bright and arty. She has just the right combination of teen awkwardness and collegiate confidence, with a tinge of heartbreak over the loss of her fragile, glass-thin sister. Her friends are like colorful glass beads accentuating her, and Jack is the "sexy mysterious bad boy" archetype without coming across as Edward-Cullen creepy. He's had his heart removed, after all -- you can't expect him to be normal.
Straddling the line between young-adult and contemporary fantasy, "Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel" is a tale of glittering fae magic, rich prose and a clever twist on a classic tale. For those who love a good faerie romance, this is a must-read.
Top reviews from other countries
The once human, now somehow „other“, man is Jack Fata. And the heroine is Finn, Serafine, Sullivan, who just moved to the small town of Fair Hollow with her father. The two fled from San Francisco, where Finn‘s sister committed suicide a year ago, to finally move on somehow.
But the town is strange, people and buildings alike and even when Finn has made friends, they aren’t really able to ignore the constant danger that lurked everywhere and the feeling that no one is ever really safe.
This atmosphere is one of the things that K. Harbour has got down. This atmosphere gives the whole plot an eerie feeling, even a dose of horror. It’s the perfect backdrop for the story full of uncanny people (term used loosely here) and events. And in the beginning, Finn is a great character to follow around. When she comes to town, she makes friends with great people and is able to not fall for the awesome supernaturals. She starts investigating what is behind all the strange things she and her friends experience and she is sensible about things. Up until when she falls for Jack and she and her friends start making the same mistakes over and over. Actually, it gets more and more unbelievable that Finn should be able to do anything about the old, cunning and powerful beings she is up against. And she needs more than one deus ex machina events to get out of deathly peril again and again. Added to that are the long parts where nothing new happens, which slow the pacing down a lot. The book is way too long in my opinion. So, I liked the background, the fae lore and the atmosphere, but with these main characters, I don’t know if I want to read on.
All that said, there are a few things that this book does so well that I'm inclined to read the next one. The first of these is the set of friendships formed by two besties adopting the new kid even before the first classes of the fall semester begin. This triad of friendships are nuanced and do more to hold the plot together than just about anything else in the whole book. The other thing that kept me reading is the charcterization of the female protagonist. When she's not repeatedly getting lost in the woods, drinking faerie wine and getting separated from her friends, our Finn is the real McCoy: a true hero. And the author absolutely nails the voice of a withdrawn teenager grieving the suicide of her only sister.
It's sad to give only three stars to such an ambitious book, and ironic that a three-star book warrants a much more thoughtful review than my four-and five-star ravings for slam dunk favorite reads. I do hope that the author will continue to write as there is potential here for truly masterful work some day.
And I suppose, at this moment, this is my favorite piece of fiction on fairies, too. The magic and atmosphere is so completely intrinsic in nature that I don't know how to describe it, but to say, it's real, it feels real to me, as someone who has studied folklore for most of my adult life.
The story is a beautiful and highly romantic retelling of Tam Lin, the ballad about mortals and fairies and love. I just adored the heroine, an ordinary girl who has lost both her mother and sister, who meets the goblin boy and is seduced by him, only she seduces him and makes him bleed. From there on out, the fairy trick is complicated and the mischief is deep. But not even death can stop this kind of love.
It's not a complicated story and the events are simple and play out slowly like the fairy dream that surrounds it. The setting becomes a character. Jack, well, he IS one dark and beautiful dream. And this time, the schoolgirl saves him. That's the pleasant ending, the good outcome.
But it all came at a high price. People do die. Hearts are broken. And one has to understand that mortals loving the dead can have consequences, terrible consequences. The living do not choose death easily. And the dead, well, they want to live again.
There are lots of literary allusions, which also function as metaphors and clues and other kinds of things. I've been reading this book off and on all day, rereading some passages and pages, marking it. Lots of beautiful passages and quotes to lift from this tale. And it is a tale, so really character is less important than story.
Side note: I have read four very good novels this year, this being one of those four. All of them have several things in common. (1) Third person narrative (2) Basically they are tales, meaning structure (3) ordinary girls who have no super powers and who are not chosen, etc. (4) Girls who find themselves in extra-ordinary circumstances and survive because they are good and smart and loyal and have a strong sense of empathy. (5) A price is paid (6) Family is important. (7) sui-generis, meaning they defy labeling.
I am going to write a detailed review for my blog at a later date.
But I love this novel and highly recommend it to everyone, 13 and up!
Holly Black has a soul sister whose words are luscious and terrible to behold. A true story teller armored with a deep knowledge of myth and legend as to keep us spellbound throughout the read. A truly rare bit of magic that. A spell I fell deeper under with each turning of the page.
This is a beautiful horror as the first book of the series Night and Nothing. A created world so explicit as to seem like the town down the road. Robust characters of flesh and not that you just know they inhabit that town one way or another. Plot and tricks and turns to keep you reading til your eyes burn. A devastatingly subtle evil gem of a tale.
But Fair Hollow seems to have secrets. Long a haunt of movie makers, the town seems full of beautiful people and dramatic happenings. The most beautiful are the Fata family, extremely wealthy and consisting of a large clan of both men and women. They don't seem to have to work and spend a lot of time having parties and exploring the deserted mansions from Fair Hollows time as a haven for wealthy families.
Finn is curious about the Fatas, and especially when she meets Jack Fata. He is impossibly gorgeous, irresistibly mysterious, and for some reason, he seems interested in Finn. She seems to run into him everywhere. Sometimes he pushes her away and then he pulls her back. She doesn't know what to think, but she knows she is falling in love.
But that's not a good idea. For the Fata family is mysterious for a reason. They have secrets going back centuries and they don't take kindly to newcomers. As Finn gets closer to their secrets, she starts to realise that she has fallen into a danger even more fatal than the one that stole her sister. Can she break free and can she take Jack from his family?
This is the first of a trilogy about The People Of Nothing And The Night. It is lushly written and the tension builds very slowly. The reader sees Finn's danger long before she does, but is helpless to do anything more than read as she is entwined further and further into the Fata family mysteries. This book is recommended for young adults and those interested in suspense fantasy novels.