Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Source: I received an eARC in exchange for a honest review.
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Ok, I'm going to try my best not to let this review dissolve into a fangirling mess. But Holly Black is one of my very favourite YA authors, even since I read Tithe way back when I actually was a young adult. One of the problems with a favourite author is that tiny doubting corner of my brain that is always asking "Is this the book that won't measure up to my expectations?"
Well, this book wasn't it. After being introduced to vampires in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Darkest Part of the Forest returns to the Faeries that starred in Holly Black's A Modern Faerie Tale series. I really loved this because, as I mentioned, I feel in love with Tithe as a teen (possibly because it was one of the first books I read with swearing and drinking and all that. What a rebel). So to go back to Faerie was really fun for me.
One of my favourite parts of this story was the setting of Fairfold. This is a unique town where the mortals are aware of and generally co-exist with the Faeries. However, tourists visit every year to catch a glimpse of these magical folk and every year, a few tourists don't make it home. It is equal parts terrifying and enthralling. I haven't yet decided if I would visit this place if it existed.
This story centers on pair of siblings, Hazel and Ben. Because Hazel and Ben's parents were extremely irresponsible, they spent their childhood running wild through the woods and at some point actually beginning hunting down magical monsters, Hazel with a sword and Ben with his gift for music. However, an accident forces them to stop and they do their best to be normal in such a strange place, at least until the terrible monster that lives in the darkest part of the forest begins to terrorize the town.
I really enjoyed the character of Hazel. Like all of Holly Black's heroines I've read, Hazel is deliciously flawed. I love Black's ability to craft such imperfect characters and make me fall in love with them all the same. I enjoyed Ben as well, despite his struggles and pain. I also loved Jack and how he embodied such a lovely combination of familiar and strange all in one. The only minor flaw I found in the book was in the character of Severin. I just really wish we had gotten to see more of him and gotten to know his personality a bit better.
Without giving anything away, there were a couple interesting twists throughout and a very exciting conclusion. I just wish for a second book, because I really didn't want to say goodbye to these characters.
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