Author: Terra Harmony
Year Published: 2023
“Nerdection Good Read”
Biblical stories tell us that there was once a war in Heaven. A great ideological battle turned physical and led to Lucifer and a third of the angels in heaven being cast out. Lucifer and his angels, with their insurmountable pride, were purged from Heaven and banished to a new plane of existence – Hell, where they festered in their villainy, warping from once beautiful angels into heinous demons. So the story goes. It’s a very black and white ordeal. Harmony’s Oak, Thorn, and Ash series tells the story of the grey areas where the histories and worlds of demons, angels, fairies, and humans collide.
This is the story of Brenna, an eighteen-year-old with an obsession with the Fae. For as long as Brenna can remember, she has felt dissociated from her family and the human world, only feeling like she belongs in her dreams where she goes to visit the Great Hall and dwell amongst the Fae folk, dancing, feasting, and socializing. As she enters adulthood, her obsession starts to become more intense, as do her mysterious powers – Brenna can channel searing light through her hands, though she seems to have little control over it.
The Fae can sense this and start calling her home to them. Queen Rhianna croons to her through her dreams, telling her to seek out the Faery Triad – where oak, ash, and hawthorn trees grow – a sure sign that fairies inhabit a forest. Brenna must travel from America to Ireland in search of such a forest, confront her childhood trauma, and find the home she has always longed for. Although once there, this home is not anything like she expected. War is coming, and Brenna may prove to be a part of the prophecy to save the Fae.
To save the Fae, Brenna will have to confront and work with a dark enemy, process her own childhood trauma, undergo grueling combat training, master her powers, and figure out how to slay an angel.
My Take on Oak Book 1 Of Oak, Thorn, And Ash
I appreciated what Harmony was trying to do with this story and it had so many elements that make for great fantasy reading. I loved the genesis story around the Fae folk being the Blessed. In the war in Heaven, Michael and his angels cast out Lucifer and other prideful angels. Some of these angels were the Fallen – cast out into the Underworld, never to return, and turning into demons. Others were caught in the in-between and dwelled on the Earth with the humans – the Fae. The Fae love to tend to the nature of the human world, and hence call themselves the Blessed. The themes throughout the story of the vulnerable and weak defeating the strongest were inspiring and created a great space for Brenna and her fellow characters to blossom.
There was also a romance sub-plot, which few of us will ever turn down in our fantasy novels. Killian has the vibe of a morally grey, fated-mate male main character that has become so iconic for this genre. Unfortunately, this particular romance fell a bit short. Killian and Brenna ended up jumping into this weird but intense attachment, complete with sexual tension, that had very little preamble. I can see how Killian saving Brenna as a child could be the start of their written-in-the-stars romance, but it wasn’t fleshed out enough to be satisfying or sensical. Brenna came across as quite a juvenile character, which is to be expected of an eighteen-year-old falling in love for the first time. The disappointment came from the fact that Killian wasn’t a well-developed character and ended up mirroring the juvenile disposition.
The other element of the story that fell well short of expectations was the impact of Brenna’s psychological trauma and how little responsibility she took for it and her own healing. There was significant emphasis on the evolution of this part of Brenna’s story, but the actual effect on her character was glossed over and didn’t feel as impactful as it should have been. Any person reading this story who themselves has suffered sexual assault or child abuse would be disappointed, if not offended, by how this part of Brenna’s personal progress was presented. This may also be a contributing factor as to why the romance sub-plot felt so empty. Brenna and Killian’s relationship ended up feeling co-dependent, like Brenna was trying to distract herself from her trauma, rather than growing and maturing with, or in spite, of it. The redemption for this element of the story came through the suspense around the revealing of her childhood trauma, which is initially repressed by Brenna – how it affected her relationship with her family, particularly her sister Quinn, and to the human world was productive to the story.
Still, I have high hopes for the progression of the story through the next two installments of the books.
This is an 18-years and over read. There are violent battle scenes, sex scenes, and depictions of sexual assault against children.
About The Author Of Oak: The Oak, Thorn, and Ash Series
Terra Harmony is a self-published fantasy author with one adult fantasy series published, ‘The Akasha Series’, one middle-grade fantasy series published, ‘The Painted Maidens Trilogy’, as well as a short story anthology, ‘The Kindred Curse’. Terra’s self-published books have over 700 reviews with a 4 star average rating. Terra has taken a several-year break from advertising her books to write the Oak, Thorn, and Ash series, which is not currently published.
Terra has written about vampires, witches, werewolves, mermaids and now fairies, demons, and angels. But her greatest adventures will forever be her enlistment in the Marine Corps, her journey with foster care and adoption, and raising four children – the oldest who is now a Marine himself (though we tried our best to convince him otherwise). When Terra is not working or writing, she is busy as a volunteer Girl Scout leader or planning the next family snowboarding trip!