cover image The Thorns Remain

The Thorns Remain

JJA Harwood. Magpie, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-00-860316-8

Harwood (The Shadow in the Glass) delivers an un-put-downable historical fantasy drawn from border ballads and myths of the fae. In 1919, Moira Jean Kinross is one of only six young adults left in the tiny Highland village of Brudonnock, which has been decimated by absentee English landlords, WWI, and the Spanish flu. Though still grief-stricken over the death of her fiancé, Agnus, in the war, Moira Jean convinces her five compatriots to sneak out to the woods for a party—unaware that the forest is the domain of a fae prince known as the Dreamer. In revenge, the Dreamer kidnaps Moira Jean’s friends, forcing them into an endless, deadly dance. It’s up to Moira Jean to bargain for their freedom with the Dreamer, who demands increasingly difficult-to-obtain goods in trade (“a piece of a new-born”; “something that you have lost”). At the same time, she must keep the village running without them—and evade the Dreamer’s clutches as he begins to pursue her romantically. Harwood does a masterful job shading both her glamorous villain and her tenacious heroine; the introduction of Moira Jean’s bisexuality is particularly well-done, grounded in realistic-feeling historical thought patterns. The author also has a knack for building tension, keeping the pages flying throughout. This is not to be missed. (May)