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
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?
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
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