Briar Queen_ A Night and Nothing Novel - Katherine Harbour


Jack Hawthorn had begun to dread sleep. He dreamed now, and most of those dreams were nightmares. He wasn’t used to fear: the drumming of his heart, the quickening of breath, the blood coursing through him.

In his apartment above the abandoned theater, sprawled on his bed beneath a film poster of Rudolph Valentino as the sheik, he traced his gaze across the ceiling’s metal girders, down to the objects he’d collected over many, many years. Moonlight silvered the eyes of a taxidermy owl, a brass teakettle, an apple-green iPod, things he’d taken to prove that he was a part of the true world and not a phantom.

Now, he was a part of the true world, thanks to an annoyingly reckless girl with caramel-colored eyes.

He rolled off the bed. He dressed quickly and headed for the window. Shoving it open, he climbed onto the fire escape swirling with snow and dropped down into the parking lot.

In the Summerwoods, now barren with winter’s descent, Jack passed the ruins of a chapel built by an English explorer named Drake and moved into a grove of birches, their paper-white bark blending with the snow to create an illusion of endlessness. Snowflakes dusted the dark brown hair falling around his face as he ventured farther into the woods.

At last, he crouched down beneath a rowan tree scored with five unsettling marks, to examine the frost-glimmering leaves. Because he was no longer a thing of the dark, he didn’t see the murdered boy crouched nearby, hyacinth flowers drifting from a cavity in his chest. The boy, whose body should have been rotting beneath the sparkling leaves, said, “Jack.”

Jack didn’t hear. He picked a few things from the ground and stared at them, closed his fingers around them, and bowed his head.

The dead boy, once named Nathan Clare, didn’t speak again. He’d seen the locket Jack had lifted from the leaves, the human tooth.

Jack rose and walked away.

Nathan Clare huddled in the snow, one hand curled against the hole in his chest. He couldn’t tell Jack about the bloody horror of his death or warn him about what hid in the forest. Nathan would have to wait for her . . . the girl who had once tried to save him.


Inanna was a goddess of light. Ereshkigal, her sister, was a goddess of darkness. Inanna missed her sister and went to the underworld to visit her. When she entered that place, at each gate she passed, she had to remove an article of clothing or jewelry. Soon, she had nothing left to protect her. When Inanna reached the underworld and moved toward her sister, the creatures of the underworld thought she was trying to take Ereshkigal back to the true world. They captured Inanna and made her one of the dead. But Ereshkigal helped her sister return to the light, and so remained in the dark forever.


He has teeth, and claws, and eyes that bite.

The voice of her sister, Lily Rose, was clear in Finn’s head as Finn sat in a chair beneath the young oak that had once been a malevolent thing, its winter-bared branches now glowing with tiny stars that caused the snow around her to shimmer. She didn’t know why she was here, but she felt she’d done some terrible thing.

Footprints suddenly appeared in the snow—something invisible was walking toward her. She whispered, “Go away . . . go away . . .”

Someone spoke her name. She reluctantly lifted her gaze.

A shadow in a scarlet gown stood before her, its dark hair writhing, veins glowing red beneath its charred, blackened skin. The air crackled.

“Reiko,” Finn whispered. “I’m sorry.”

The girl queen’s venom-green eyes opened in her burning face. “Little mayfly. The Wolf is at the door.”


Finn opened her eyes and heaved a breath. Cold crept beneath her bedcovers. Winter frosted the walls of her room, the floor, the mirror. One of the glass doors to the terrace had fallen open and was banging back and forth in a wood-smoke-scented wind.

She got up and shut the door. The bolt had come loose, so she secured it with a chair beneath the handle and stepped back, considering the whiteness drifting past the glass. It was the first snowfall she’d seen in a long time, and it was beautiful and menacing. As she listened to the heat rattling through the old radiators, she remembered a burning queen and what inhabited a certain abandoned hotel. She shivered. She looked around the tower