Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour
So overall I give this book 3 stars. It gets 4 stars for story and characters, but only 2 stars for writing and plot line. This is a modern retelling of the Scottish fairy tale Tam Lin. Apparently there are many interpretations of the story its just not one of the widely popular ones. I am all in for a fairy tale retelling so I figured I would really enjoy this book. Well I was partially right.
Finn, the main character, moves to Fair Hollow, her father's home town to live in her grandmother's old house after the deaths of her mother and sister, Lily Rose. She attends HallowHeart, one of two local colleges, while her father teaches at the other, St.Johns. Finn makes two really good friends, Christie and Sylvie, and a few enemies, Angyll and her crew. She also meets a group of strange, gothic, vintage, oddly beautiful, and very dangerous people known as the Fatas. The Fatas are a large, very rich and eccentric extended "family". Finn falls for "cousin" Jack and tries to befriend "adopted" Nathan. Finn, Christie, and Sylvie are all threatened, tortured, and kidnapped by various members of the Fatas. Angyll ends up being killed by one of them. Throughout the story, Finn tries to unravel Lily Rose's journal and how it pertains to Fair Hollow and the Fatas because there are so many similarities. In the end though true love, between Finn and Jack wins out and the Queen of the Fatas is destroyed leaving the rest of the Fatas to live on and Finn and Jack to live as normally as possible.
Finn and Jack are both likable characters and throughout you are pulling for their love. I would have liked to see more development of Finn's life before and without Jack and the move. Once she meets Jack her whole world revolves around him and the Fatas, which is both cliche and unhealthy. Jack is not developed until the last chapters and then only a little. Christie and Sylvie are great friends and characters, but neither is developed. Christie is a flirt who you want to hug and slap all at the same time. I would like to have seen more of his life without Finn and Sylvie, maybe even heard more about all those brothers. Sylvie is a goth girl who is supposedly a witch. I would love to know more about her family and the witch blood. The characters are written as freshmen in college but I felt like they were freshmen in high school. Finn, Christie, Sylvie and Angyll are all very immature, which could be from their small town upbringing or their damaged psyches. Jack and the Fatas are supposed to be hundreds of years old, but really act like spoiled rich high school bullies. I see a lot of parallels with Vampire Diaries, with Finn being Elena and Reiko being Rebecca and Angyll being Katherine. I think that each of the individual Fatas could have been elaborated on.
The story line is classic: new girl meets and falls for older unobtainable guy. Guy falls for her even though his and her friends forbid it. In the end true love conquers all the naysayers and the drama. I like this story line usually and Harbour kept it flowing nicely through the book. The scenes are set with lots of details on lighting, colors, sounds and smells. I know that smells are a big deal in fairy lands but the overuse was annoying. The details seemed to be written before the overall plot outline was finished. The author was apparently rather young when she wrote the story and that shows. The story is fluffed to fill the pages with unneeded adjectives and filler. I do not see any major flaws in this book that a ruthless editor couldn't iron out.
In conclusion I liked the story and the characters. I felt that the book as a whole needed a little more work. I read an ARC so maybe some of that was worked out in the final draft. I hope that Harbour continues to write and hone her craft. I look forward to seeing her growth as an author.
P.S. The cover is really pretty. And you should check out her website for more on Lily Rose. http://www.darkfaeryblackrabbit.blogspot.com/ Available June 24, 2014. Pre-Order at Amazon.