Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour | Book Review

Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour paints an evocative picture of Upstate New York. It is a competent retelling of the Scottish ballad ‘Tam Lin’, modernized for our time. The official summary compares Harbour’s book to Cassandra Clare, Erin Morgenstern and Melissa Marr, personally I think that the most accurate comparison is to Marr. Thorn Jack is a story of a girl who gets caught up with a mysterious race of beings known as the Fatas who have all the allure and all the menace of the fey.

Finn is moving from San Diego to a small town in Upstate New York called Fair Hollow with her professor father after the suicide of her sister, Lily Rose. Finn is a college student. She makes friends with her neighbor, a boy named Christie and another girl named Sylvie. The three are an inseparable trio who happen to end up at this concert by a lake which sparks pretty much the entire plot of the book. At the concert, Finn meets Jack Fata who has long dark hair with red tips. Finn is inexplicably attracted to Jack. There, she learns that the Fatas are this weird, wealthy family that does not go to either of the two colleges in Fair Hollow. Finn and Jack continually encounter each other, eventually forming a romance. Of course, this attracts the ire of Reiko Fata, who is Jack’s sister and perhaps not entirely human. Something sinister is going on in the town of Fair Hollow.

If you like to read about heroines who are brave, true, and pure of heart, you will like Finn Sullivan. She is a character who starts off feeling a bit unreachable, as she’s experiencing extreme grief. Yet, as she forms her friendships with Christie and Sylvie,she feels like someone I could actually like. She’s loyal to her friends. She will do whatever it takes to keep her friends safe, even when the Fatas begin to mess with her friends. Finn is the sort of character who never gives up, even when the situation is really tough. She’s quite admirable. If you like stories with a strong parent-child bond, you’ll like Harbour’s Thorn Jack.

I think that if you are going into Thorn Jack expecting the next great love story, you might be looking in the wrong place. I did not find the romance to be as well developed as I wanted it to be. Now, do not get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book. However, I thought that Finn and Jack lacked chemistry. Yes, they have quite a few scenes together. They have one impressive date. There’s no witty banter though. For much of the book, Jack resists Finn and is not very nice to her. Yet, she’s attracted to him. Maybe because he is a very dark and mysterious character? I do not know. I just did not feel the romance at all. Maybe you will though.

What I liked about Harbour’s debut was the excellent world building. If you like books that weave in fairy mythology with modern times, you’ll love this book. It actually makes use of various forms of mythology beyond fairies. It was cool reading about how mythical creatures affect the lives of everyone in a small Upstate New York town. Granted, these mythical creatures were incredibly sinister. You can feel the darkness wafting off the page, almost. There’s so much magic in this book, yet it never overwhelms the story. At it’s heart, this is a story of love and sacrifice and hope, despite the mythological bits.

Katherine Harbour’s writing is very lush. As I was reading Thorn Jack I kept thinking that it felt like Halloween and fall in book form. The scenery pops off the page. I felt like I could picture Fair Hollow perfectly. The pacing is unhurried. There is plenty of action for readers who like when things happen in books. Yet, the thing that stands out most with the writing is how real Fair Hollow feels. Harbour has a gift for making a world come alive through her words. I highly recommend this book if you like vivid world building that calls to mind a certain time of year peppered with interesting characters and a fascinating mythology.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I loved the story so much, my review comes out today as well. I felt like this was a good retellings of Tamlin and portrayed the Fae in all their menacing glory. It also ended in a way that made you want to read the second book. I can’t wait for the next one to come out. TFS
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  2. I loved how this book was dark and creepy and fully immersed you in this strange world filled with creepy creatures that would just as soon eat you as look at you.
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  3. Hmm, I’m still not quite sure I want to read Thorn Jack! I was initially curious about it, to be sure, but I’m not particularly invested in fey or paranormal type novels. BUT I do love books with incredible world-building, and I do like that setting! I’ll keep this on the back burner for now, but glad that it was fairly enjoyable for you.
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  4. I like that it doesn’t center on a love story. The romance isn’t something I have to have, and I feel relieved when it plays a small part in a story.
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  5. Ooh! I didn’t think about including the strong parent bond in my review. Nice. I normally try to take note of those things as a parent of four children… But I suppose I pay more attention when I’m reading books targeted at children. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when, in novels, parents “don’t get it,” and other myths that reinforce negative relationships between parents and children.

    If you’d like, please feel free to link up your review at 🙂
    Jen Rothmeyer recently posted..Thorn Jack by Katherine HarbourMy Profile

  6. I was a little on the fence with this one, but your review helped me decide that I need to buy a copy of this book. It’s on sale on amazon right now for only 1.99 on kindle too so why not?

    Thanks for the helpful review, April! 😀
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