Monday, October 12, 2015

Author Interview and Review:Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour

Title: Thorn Jack
Author: Katherine Harbour
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 5 Cows

Goodreads Description: 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.


Katherine Harbour draws upon Irish folklore and fantasy to create the enticing story, Thorn Jack.  Fans of Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, and Shakespeare will love this series.  If you thought fairy tale rewrites were getting a bit boring and predictable, think again.  Thorn Jack is based loosely on the story of Tam Lin, but with an entirely new twist, and is guaranteed to keep you on the toes (or edge of your seat if you’re like me).
One of my favorite aspects of this story is that it includes Irish folklore.  I recently read Maggie Stiefvater’s book, Lament, and it revolved around Celtic faerie lore and I absolutely loved it! As far as fantasy is concerned, the history and story line behind many of these tales are fascinating and I love how YA authors are including them in their books.  In Thorn Jack, the Fatas are a family in Fair Hollow, where Serafine Sullivan has just moved to with her father.  Well known for being dark and potentially dangerous, most citizens of Fair Hollow stay clear of the denizens of this family.  Serafine, or Finn, as she is more commonly referred to in the story, has other plans though.  After an initial encounter with Jack Fata, she can’t stay away.  Even after she finds out more about his past and the Fata family, Finn becomes more and more attached.
Short of making this sound like another paranormal romance book, I want to add that this isn’t that.  Yes, there is some romance involved, but for the most part this book really didn’t spend too much time on the ongoing relationship between Jack and Finn.  Rather, Harbour involved many of the characters and focused more on the folklore and mystery surrounding the storyline.  Another one of my favorite parts of this book is that it involved the murder mystery of Finn’s sister, who died shortly before she moved to Fair Hollow with her dad.  While it was considered a suicide at the time, Finn learns there might be more to her sister’s death than she initially thought, and her trip to this new town brings to light more information about it. 

This dark fantasy just made it to the top of my list of favorite 2015 books and I’m already on the lookout for the second book in the series, Briar Queen, which was just released in June.  

“Thorn Jack” is the first one of your books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. In the blurb, it is described as a modern retelling of “Tam Lin.”  What made you choose “Tam Lin?”

I loved how, in the ballad, the heroine, Janet, is warned not to go to Carter Hall, a ruin haunted by the faery knight Tam Lin. But she goes anyway, out of curiosity or recklessness. And then she ends up rescuing Tam Lin from the faery queen.

Do you have any hobbies besides reading and writing?
I paint—oil on canvas, strange characters from my imagination, but nothing really from my books. The paintings are more whimsical. I also love botany and I’ve been thinking of trying to make some natural perfumes.

I read a lot of YA, but fantasy and anything involving mythology or folklore is typically my favorite.  Other than “Tam Lin,” what are some of your favorite books from this genre? Any other ones that inspired your series, The Children of Night and Nothing?

Some of my favorite books in this genre are Moonheart by Charles de Lint, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Moonwise by Greer Gilman, Lili St. Crow’s fairy tale series, Holly Black’s Tithe, and Melissa Marr’s Ink Exchange. But my series had a lot of different influences: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Arthur Machen’s ‘The White People,’ the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Shakespeare’s fairies, Celtic mythology about the dead.

What does your writing process entail?  Are you one of those authors that forces themselves to write so many words a day? 

I do force myself to write at least half a chapter a night while listening to music. Maybe about 10 pages, 20 on a good day. I write the first draft by hand (and put it in a fireproof safe!) because it doesn’t feel like work, as does being hunched over a computer screen for hours. Then I type up the next couple of drafts.

I’m curious! Are you currently working on any writing projects?  Also, do you plan to write any books or series that are not related to The Children of Night and Nothing Series?

I’m writing a few short stories set in The Children of Night and Nothing world, and a standalone trilogy starring a different character from that series. I’m also in the midst of a steampunkish novel with a vengeful seamstress for a heroine and a hero who is a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Victor Frankenstein.

Are you currently reading anything?

I’m reading Poison Princess by Kresley Cole, Ingrid Seymour’s Ignite the Shadows, and The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols.

How do you feel about film adaptations and would you like to see “Thorn Jack” as a movie one day?

I’d love to see “Thorn Jack” as a movie, even though it would be someone else’s vision. It has been optioned, so we’ll see.

“Briar Queen” which is the second book in the Night and Nothing Series, was recently released this June.  Anything you can tell us about what Jack and Finn are up to in this book and did we see Caliban for the last time in “Thorn Jack?”

In “Briar Queen,” Finn and Jack are attempting to be ordinary, but there are signs that Jack is reverting back to a shadow creature. Then Reiko Fata’s old flame, Seth Lot (the Wolf), comes to town with a revelation and a challenge, and Finn and Jack—along with Finn’s friends, Sylvie and Christie—must venture into the Ghostlands, a journey that will transform each one of them. And Caliban is still prowling around.

I’ve heard other authors, such as Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, talk about the difficulties of writing about magic and folklore and that there are rules one must follow when including these elements in books.  Do you feel this is a fair statement?  And if so, what guidelines did you have to follow when writing The Night and Nothing series?

Definitely. You need to keep track of your world’s rules. In The Night and Nothing series, the Fatas, the faeries, are border creatures, existing between the living and the dead. They can materialize as flesh and blood, but it’s mimicry, like shapeshifting. They grow hearts and bleed when they love, and so become vulnerable. And then there are the rules for defending oneself against the Fatas and what works against them. There are rules Sylvie and Christie must particularly follow, because of what they become, but that would be giving too much away about “Briar Queen.”

One last question! If you could co-write with any other author, who would it be and why? 

That’s a difficult one. Probably Maggie Stiefvater, whose stories and characters are so imaginative.

One last request! On Wholly-Books we like to do what we call a round of ‘this or that.’  All you have to do is pick which one you prefer!

This or that
Early bird or night owl?
Night owl
Coffee or tea?
Ebooks or print?
Print (but I love trees, so ebooks are okay)
Beach or pool?
Facebook or Twitter?
Cats or Dogs?
Cats (but dogs are cute, too)
Pens or pencils?
Dancing or Singing?
Singing (while driving in my car, alone, where no one can hear)
Call or text?
Beer or wine?


  1. Great review and author interview. I thought Tam Lin was a Scottish folklore, didn't know it had Irish origins. Adding this book to my tbr list.

    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  2. thanks Aparajita! i appreciate you taking the time to read it and check it out!

  3. I recently read this book as well and reviewed it today. I've never read a retelling inspired by Tam Lin before, I thought the story was quite lovely and wonderful. Perfect book for the season too :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. I'm so glad to hear of someone who also read this book! maybe it's because it's not that new, but i feel like it's a hidden gem! i loved it! Thanks for checking out my post!


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