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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black ARC {4 Stars}

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black takes the idea of fairies back to their creepy and very much non-human roots along with some very complicated family dynamics and sibling friendship! Somewhere in the middle I couldn’t stop because I had to get past the spooky part in order to sleep WHICH IS HOW FAIRY BOOKS SHOULD BE >.>. I actually have an unusual relationship with The Darkest Part of the Forest because I heard Holly read a bit of the beginning at an event for a previous book of hers, so I’ve been lusting after an untitled manuscript for SO LONG and am finally sated. Next Holly Black book of awesome please?

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black ARC {4 Stars}

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Published by Little Brown on Jan. 13th, 2014
Genres: Dark Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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 pointy 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 and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • What I did not realize about The Darkest Part of the Forest is that it doesn’t take place in a secret magical world. It takes place in a town that very much knows about the weird fairies and boy with horns in a coffin in the woods, and the world knows about the town. The world only kind of believes the magic isn’t a hoax, but it is SO COOL for the magic not to be a hidden secret :D.
  • I have a love and hate relationship with fairies and The Darkest Part of the Forest is the kind I love. I believe fairies should give me the creeps because they are old and amoral and find humans fascinating at times and annoying at others. Holly Black has AWESOME spooky fairies of so many varieties and I loved it despite needing my blankey at times ;-).
  • The two main characters of The Darkest Part of the Forest are brother and sister and it rocks. Ben is gay, so he and Hazel have had a shared crush on the horned boy in the coffin for their entire childhood. They also are very close because their parents are pretty hands-off to say the least. THEY ARE SO CUTE! It makes me want an older brother.
  • As mentioned above, the family dynamics are pretty complicated, but not in a “there is a convenient reason why the adults are never around” sort of way. Ben and Hazel’s parents are stereotypical artists and are therefore pretty unpredictable and take a while to settle into parenthood. They are around during the events of The Darkest Part of the Forest, but their relationship with their children is much different than the relationship that I had with my parents, so I found it fascinating.
  • I found the diversity of characters in The Darkest Part of the Forest refreshing. Ben is gay as I discussed earlier and his sexuality isn’t just mentioned and never dealt with. There is boy kissing! His sexuality is treated the same as heterosexuality is treated in YA and it is marvelous. Hazel and Ben are friends with a pair of twins that are also described as darker skinned, though it’s treated as any other character description would be <3.
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest is short because Holly Black makes sure that every paragraph matters. There is a whole lot of action and I never felt a lull where the characters were just going off doing something pointless. I whipped through The Darkest Part of the Forest and highly recommend you make time for a book binge when starting it.

Weaknesses:

  • All of the above love for The Darkest Part of the Forest meant that a rather anti-climatic ending hit me with more disappointment than usual. The ending probably wouldn’t even be considered anti-climactic at the end of many other books, but because things felt so epic and action-packed in The Darkest Part of the Forest, the end just didn’t meet my expectations.
  • I did predict all the big twists and reveals unfortunately, though I do still think they were clever and awesome. I find that I’m frequently able to figure out Holly Black’s twists while still enjoying them, so I suspect we just think similarly ;-). *hopes fervently*
  • There is a lot of build-up to the scary fairies that even other fairies are scared of and we get glimpses early on that I was afraid would give me nightmares. Once we found out what they really were in full view though, and their origins, I found myself shrugging and kind of wanting to go back to not knowing.

Summary:

The Darkest Part of the Forest is an excellent book for fantasy readers that like things a little spooky, unique, and with diverse characters. You won’t get to find out everything because this is a short standalone, but what you do find out is awesome and beautiful. Basically, if you love the cover and love the idea of a story that matches that cover, you won’t be disappointed, so go go go!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

© 2015 – 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Great review, Anya! I love your website so much. The Darkest Part of the Forest was an okay read for me, just because I enjoyed reading about Severin. Without him, I’m not sure if I would have rated it above 2.5 stars.

    • Aw, thanks so much!! Severin definitely makes the book a whole lot better, I’m just such a fan of dark and spooky fae ;-)

  2. I really would have liked to see more of the fairies. They were discussed and built up, only to be treated to a drive by view of them and their court. Blah!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The Fiery HeartMy Profile

    • Yeah, it was such a short book so I guess something had to get the short end, but she could have just made it longer for us!

  3. haha, I always have to go to bed on a good part too! The normal town that knows magic is real is always good. Yay for creepy fairies! I love the sound of the sibling relationship. I understand, you just had your expectations set to high because the rest of the book was so good. Yeah, the mystery is always scarier. I so want to read this one!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Comment on Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To by Natalie @ Book Lovers LifeMy Profile

  4. Thanks so much for this great review! I adore a world with fantasy in it, so I think I will have to pick this book up.

  5. Ooo I am so excited for this one! Love all of Holly Black’s work, but her stories about the fae are always the best. Ben sounds like a such a cool character…cannot wait!! :)
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Review: The Young Elites by Marie LuMy Profile

  6. I am excited about this book, glad you enjoyed it. I cannot wait to read it. I love spooky fairy books :)
    Stephanie recently posted…January 2015 TBR PileMy Profile

  7. I hate when I predict endings, but it sounds like this one is definitely still worth reading!
    Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…GIVEAWAY: The Providence of Fire by Brian StaveleyMy Profile

    • Definitely still worth it! The middle of it is really the memorable part for me that still pops up into my head at times :)

  8. I’m glad you really liked this one! I love it when authors just weave in diversity and sexuality and not make a huge deal out of it. I have yet to read anything by Holly Black, but this book has come up a lot, so I may just pick this one up when I see it!
    Valerie recently posted…So, It Is My BirthdayMy Profile

    • This would be a great book to start Holly Black with :D. You’ll then become addicted and need to read all her other work though ;-)

  9. I really like Holly Black’s work, and this one sounds real fascinating! :O Faeries that go back to their evil and less glittery roots? Very very interesting. :)
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Review 134: Not a Drop to Drink (Mindy McGinnis)My Profile

  10. I loved the fairies in this one! They’re one of my favorite fantasy creatures, and I liked that she made them kind of evil, instead of just silly tricksters. They’re malicious! And I totally agree like it was nice how Ben’s sexuality wasn’t treated as this huge thing or swept under the rug, same with the twins skin color.
    Angie F. recently posted…2014 Reading Statistics Part 1My Profile

    • Yes, I love evil fairies so much! *sigh* oh Ben, I just love him and want to hug him, haha. But that’s it exactly, they were treated like real characters and real people and those aspects were just one part of them!

  11. Adelynne Chang says:

    I’m so excited to read this now! I’ve been looking for a good dark novel about fairies! :)

  12. Great review, Anya! I’ve had an eye on this, and your review just makes me want to read it right now! :) Just like you, I like my fairies a (lot) little dark, and this sounds like such an interesting and different setting :)
    Can’t wait!
    Camilla recently posted…Bout of Books – January ’15My Profile

  13. How interesting the magic isn’t hidden, I always like it when books that that route and it’s interesting to see how the world deals with that knowledge. The characters sound well devloped and like the gay issue is handled well. I like it when it’s threated like any normal romance would instead of drawing special attention to it. Not sure if the dark and scary part is something for me, but it sounds like an interesting book!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Books you hate by authors you likeMy Profile

    • Isn’t it?? It was so fun reading about how the world reacts to the knowledge since it makes complete sense haha. I’m a complete wuss so the dark and scary isn’t too dark and scary so you might still go for it ;-)

  14. it sounds like a really good book actually, have you read Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simmer? It’s not very gritty but it’s the same sort of world building. Coexisting.
    Claire recently posted…Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsMy Profile

    • Oo Bones of Fairie sounds great! I don’t need grit all the time since I’m a bit of a wuss and I love the idea of magic coexisting with our world openly :D

  15. I have not read a good fairy tale mashup for a while.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Tough Travels – Snarky SidekicksMy Profile

  16. I haven’t read any of Holly Black’s work yet, but I probably should at some point. Especially since I’m looking for fairy books to read and compare with the one I’m writing. Have you read Holly’s “Tithe,” btw? Apparently that one has fairies as well, and someone else had recommended it to me.
    Sara L. recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday, Vol. 3: “Shadow Scale” by Rachel HartmanMy Profile

    • I haven’t read Tithe yet but it is on the list of must reads for sure! I love how she writes and how she twists typical tropes so I definitely recommend all her books :D

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