I have hit a dry spell in regards to reading this summer. Usually I have a pile of ‘to be read’ books that I found in the library or in a store, but this summer nothing has piqued my interest. Romance? Meh. Mysteries? Not Really. Science Fiction? I guess.
It’s been tough….really though, you guys. There are books spread all over my house, cracked open on arm rests, flopped on to side tables, racking up fines…with plots that didn’t hold my interest and characters I found to be more harrowing than heroine (har har har).
One night while on vacation, after yet another disappointing mystery, I was surfing around on OverDrive, the Library’s ebook sharing app, when I found Briar Queen. With a mysterious cover and a synopsis that stated, “an intriguing blend of Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alice in Wonderland and A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I was hooked. Then I realized that Briar Queen was the second book in the Night and Nothing series. Jackpot! The first book in the series, Thorn Jack, “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” seemed just as promising. The possibility that I could fall into a new world and get stuck was tantalizing. I hadn’t found anything to obsess over all summer…could this be it? Fortunately both were available and I immediately downloaded them.
Both novels follow Serafina Sullivan, known to friends and family as Finn. Having suffered the loss of both her mother and sister, she and her father move to his home town of Fair Hallow in upstate New York. Finn is set to begin her freshman year at the prestigious yet small university in town and is busy trying to overcome the depression caused by the sudden and violent loss of her sister. Finn quickly makes friends and also finds herself falling for the mysterious Jack, whom she encounters at a lakeside party. Jack has a secret—in fact the whole town, college and possibly even her own family, have secrets. Jack and his friends are Fae. Some are good, some are evil, all of them are mischievous, and for some reason they are very interested in Finn.
I really wanted to like both Thorn Jack and The Briar Queen. Both books had some really awesome elements, especially being based on the story of Tam Lin. The setting was beautiful: upstate New York in the fall and early winter. The feeling of a small town with a beautiful little square and elegant university in the background, lakes and woods. There were times I felt like the author must have been a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls and every other teen show I loved…but sadly Thorn Jack and Briar Queen ended up being a little too Twilight and not enough everything else for me. This is one of those situations where I love the author’s idea and vision but disliked the execution. In fact, I just wanted to take the books and re-write them. I did finish them and when the third in the series comes out I will probably read it, just to get some closure, but these weren’t books I put down and immediately googled to find out when the third would be released.
One thing they did do is cause an urge for fall in New England…I have spent the last few weeks searching for other books set in New England/New York state in the fall with a supernatural element to them…and I have also been annoying my brother and his wife (who live in Whitesboro, New York, 45 minutes from Syracuse) with threats of coming up to visit them this fall. Thanks to these books I am craving some nice crisp fall weather so unless you feel like getting the urge to plan a trip to New York’s Adirondack region or really, really want to relive your Twilight and Gilmore Girls addiction, you can probably skip the Night and Nothing series. Or if you loved them, tell me why I am wrong.