Please welcome Katherine Harbour to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Thorn Jack was published on June 24th by Harper Voyager.
The Importance of Names—or not—in Fairy Tales
In early cultures, to name something was to give it power. To offer your name was to give someone power over you. Otherworldly beings were known by polite euphemisms only, to avoid speaking their names and being overheard by them.
In the most famous fairy tales, euphemisms are bestowed upon the innocent girl, the adventuring hero, and a whole cast of archetypes—the virgin, the soldier, the trickster, the devil, the wizard, the beast. Heroines such as the Little Mermaid, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose are known for their physical traits or virtues. ‘Snow White’ describes the heroine’s skin and purity. Cinderella/Ashputtle is to be found near the hearth. Rapunzel is named for the vegetable her starving father attempts to steal from the witch who eventually imprisons her. As for the heroes, with some exceptions, they’re often only referred to as princes, brothers, or huntsmen. The few real names among them are accompanied by descriptions—the spoiled prince in ‘Prince Darling’; Sweetheart Roland, the lover who saves his girl from her evil stepmother; Faithful Henry, who, in ‘The Frog Prince,’ is the enchanted prince’s loyal servant; and Iron John, the cruel wild man who assists the young hero of the tale. Villains are also mostly nameless, referred to only as witches, fairies, dwarves, stepmothers, and wicked kings. While Bluebeard and the Snow Queen carry titles which describe their physical attributes and their infamy, bad fairies such as Rumpelstiltskin and Eisenkopf are creatures who conceal their names or are known by them. Baba Yaga of Russian folklore is one of the few witches given a name among the many who torment fairy tale protagonists.
There seems to be a secret history threaded through these old stories, as each character plays out the destiny assigned to him/her, and must never stray from it. Whether cast with a name or a role, the lost princess will be eternally pure; the huntsman/soldier will always be brave; and the witch/bad fairy will forever haunt the ancient forests of fairy tales.
Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel
Thorn Jack Trilogy 1
Harper Voyager, June 24, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
A spectacular, modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad of Tam Lin—a beguiling fusion of love, fantasy, and myth vividly imagined and steeped in gothic atmosphere.
Their creed is "Mischief, Malevolence, and Mayhem."
Serafina Sullivan, named for angels and a brave Irish prince, is haunted by dreams of her older sister, Lily Rose, a sprite, ethereal beauty who unexpectedly took her own life. A year has passed since Lily's death, and now eighteen-year-old Finn and her college-professor father have moved back to Fair Hollow, her father's pretty little hometown alongside the Hudson River. Populated with socialites, hippies, and famous dramatic artists, every corner of this quaint, bohemian community holds bright possibilities—and dark enigmas, including the alluring Jack Fata, scion of the town's most powerful family.
Jack's smoldering looks and air of secrecy draw Finn into a dangerous romance . . . and plunge her into an eerie world of shadow and light ruled by the beautiful and fearsome Reiko Fata. Exciting and monstrous, the Fata family and its circle of strange, aristocratic denizens wield irresistible charm and glamorous power— a tempting and terrifying blend of good and evil, magic and mystery, that holds perilous consequences for a curious girl like Finn.
As she becomes more deeply entwined with Jack, Finn discovers that their lives and those of the ones she loves, including her best friends Christie Hart and Sylvie Whitethorn, are in peril. But an unexpected ally may help her protect them: her beloved sister, Lily Rose. Within the pages of the journal that Lily left behind are clues Finn must decipher to unlock the secret of the Fatas.
Yet the wrathful and deadly Reiko has diabolical plans of her own for Finn, as well as powerful allies. To save herself and to free her beloved Jack from the Fatas, Finn must stand up against the head of the family and her clever minions, including the vicious, frightening Caliban—a battle that will reveal shocking secrets about Lily Rose's death and about Finn herself . . .
Evocative and spellbinding, rich with legend, myth, and folklore, filled with heroes and villains, ghosts and selkies, changelings and fairies, witches and demons, Thorn Jack is a modern fairy tale and a story of true love, set in a familiar world, where nothing is as it seems.
Katherine Harbour was born in Albany, NY, where she attended the Junior College of Albany and wrote while holding down jobs as a pizza maker, video store clerk, and hotel maid. She went, briefly, to art college in Minneapolis, and sold her oil paintings of otherworldly figures in small galleries and at outdoor shows. She now lives in Sarasota, FL, where she works as a bookseller and dreams of autumn and winter in her stories.