She applied the Page 69 Test to Thorn Jack and reported the following:
On page 69 of Thorn Jack the heroine Finn and her two new friends, Christie and Sylvie, have been invited to one of the Fata family’s infamous parties—an autumn revel with a Shakespearean theme. The scene reveals Finn’s, Sylvie’s, and Christie’s budding friendship while hinting at sinister elements beneath the party’s ordinary façade. When Finn discovers the sugar skull candies offered as treats, Sylvie and Christie say things that foreshadow some of Thorn Jack’s themes:Visit Katherine Harbour's website.
Sylvie handed (Finn) a tiny skull made of pink sugar. “All soul’s night is only a few weeks away. Eat these and honor the dead.”And, a few paragraphs later:
Finn looked down at the candy and wondered how death could be treated so lightly.Christie raised a tiny sugar skull. “‘To die: to sleep, no more, and by sleep to say we end the heartache—”After Finn and her friends drink fake absinthe, the Fatas begin to seem strange and wild:The burned-squash smell of the jack-o’-lanterns made (Finn’s) nose wrinkle. Musicians with pale hair and dark tattoos had taken the veranda stage, and electric guitars and the singer’s howling voice soon became deafening.This party is the beginning of the Fata family’s attempt to seduce Finn, Sylvie, and Christie into their world. On this page, Finn and her friends are naive, oblivious—by the end of the scene, they realize they’re dealing with more than just a wealthy, eccentric family.
. . . she stopped to watch a magician in a striped black suit and no shirt pulling snakes from his sleeves—she recognized him as one of Jack’s friends, Atheno, the man with silver-and-black hair. As he draped what looked like a boa constrictor around his neck...
I think page 69 would make a reader continue on—it reveals a new friendship about to be tested and teases with a glimpse of otherworldliness.
Writers Read: Katherine Harbour.