The Thorns Remain

The Thorns Remain

by J.J.A. Harwood

1 out of 5

A dance with the fae will change everything

1919. In a highland village forgotten by the world, harvest season is over and the young who remain after war and flu have ravaged the village will soon head south to make something of themselves.

Moira Jean and her friends head to the forest for a last night of laughter before parting ways. Moira Jean is being left behind. She had plans to leave once – but her lover died in France and with him, her future. The friends light a fire, sing and dance. But with every twirl about the flames, strange new dancers thread between them, music streaming from the trees.

The fae are here.

Suddenly Moira Jean finds herself all alone, her friends spirited away. The iron medal of her lost love, pinned to her dress, protected her from magic.

For the Fae feel forgotten too. Lead by the darkly handsome Lord of the Fae, they are out to make themselves known once more. Moira Jean must enter into a bargain with the Lord to save her friends – and fast, for the longer one spends with the Fae, the less like themselves they are upon return. If Moira Jean cannot save her friends before Beltine, they will be lost forever…

Completely bewitching, threaded with Highland charm and sparkling with dark romance, this is a fairytale that will carry you away.

In a small Scottish village, Moira Jean and her friends accidentally catch the attention of the Fae Court. When her friends are taken, it's up to Moira Jean  to rescue them.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set in a tiny Scottish village that has lost so many to the recent World War and the subsequent Spanish Flu, the remaining villagers are doing the best they can.
As one of the few young people that haven't been killed or moved to one of the cities for work, Moira Jean's days are full of hard work. The neighbours all help each other, and they all rely on Moira Jean and her friends to provide physical labour, just so they have food to eat, and peat to warm the hearths.
After a hard day working in the fields, they escape for the evening, to kick back and relax in the woods.
What they don't know is the spot they've chosen to dance is the gateway to the Land of Fae, and they've managed to attract the attention/ire of a Fae Lord.
The next morning, Moira Jean is the only one who makes it home, and no one else in her village can even remember her friends being there.
The Fae Lord agrees that he will release Moira Jean's friends, if she completes several tasks for him before Beltaine.

This story had lots of promising elements, but failed in the execution.
I think my two main issues were: I found it boring; and I didn't like the main character.

Moira Jean's friends have been stolen away to the Land of Fae - eternal sunshine, and dancing and parties and Fae dangers. We assume - we see next to nothing of the other realm.
Instead we follow Moira Jean as she doggedly completes all of her chores (and her friends' as they aren't there to do them). She gripes and moans, but no one really cares or takes notice of her mood.
We follow her as she does the chickens. And the cows. And the cooking. And the laundry. And the soap-making. And the peat-digging.
That makes up most of the story, a young girl doing her daily chores. On repeat. With the same complaints. Day in, day out.

Moira Jean is not an interesting, or likeable character to follow, so I found it very hard to be connected to her "plight".
I thought she was selfish - she'd give a cursory "worried-about-friends-but-can't-do-anything" thought, then spent most of her time worrying about herself.
When it came to rescuing her friends and dealing with the Fae - I found it completely ridiculous from the beginning!
Despite being warned that Fae are dangerous and easily-offended, Moira Jean is a complete cow towards the Fae Lord. She insults him, tries to cheat him on a bargain. She's lucky he found it "enchanting", because I thought she was just being a brat.

Speaking of the bargains - I just found the whole thing confusing. 
She has to complete tasks the Fae Lord to get her friends back, but it never seems clear what she's supposed to do, or why.
It starts with having to do with providing the correct tribute by Beltaine, but that's sorta fuzzy and seems to get forgotten after Moira Jean attempts to complete the first task.
The Fae Lord's instructions are vague/non-existent, but Moira Jean keeps having epiphanies about tasks and where her friends are that are...just cringey.

It's such a shame, because I really liked this author's first book - The Shadow in the Glass; but this book wasn't for me.


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