More dark fantasy! And with a heroine that I didn't get annoyed with! YAY!
*achem* Sorry about that. I think publishers know my weakness now.
Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour is a sad YA fantasy romance starring Serafina Sullivan - adorably called 'Finn' - who has relocated to her father's hometown of Fair Hollow after her sister kills herself. Right from the start, the town is surreal, populated by people who love to dress in gothic clothing and have memorized more poetry than I've probably read in my whole life. Right away, Finn catches the eye of a boy from the town's most powerful family - The Fantas - Jack; who is of course much more than he seems.
I enjoy this story because the mystical creatures are tricky and dangerous. I have not read the old Scottish tale called Tam Lin, upon which this novel is based and I still haven't to make sure my review is about the book itself; which I can say I did very much enjoy. The characters are sharply built, the story is deep for a YA novel (I don't normally read those, as you may recall from my other reviews), and I can see Harbour took care with the pacing and development of the story. I can see where her talent will continue to grow as this series goes on if it does because the ending does imply more story to be told. There are some strange sentences, sometimes the story meanders a little; but once it's back on track the narrative doesn't disappoint.
I do have to take a moment to talk about Serafina. It is gratifying to see a loyal strong woman in a YA novel who knows when to fight, knows when to retreat, and stands by her friends even at her own peril. She's still reeling from her sister's suicide but she squares her shoulders, even if they're shaking in fear, and does what needs doing.
Despite the small growing pains Harbour's writing has yet to go through (and don't take this as a harsh criticism, every writer goes through this. Including myself) I enjoyed this book. If you're into dark fantasy with a sweet love story where you're hip deep in Scottish mythology, I say give this book a try. If anything, the ending was completely satisfying and worth every page getting there.
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