Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Format / Length: Hardback / 328 Pages
Publisher / Date Published: Indigo / February 5th 2015
Category / Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
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Description: 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?
Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we’d be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?
— Kenneth Patchen
Three of my favourite things in fiction have to be a) beautiful writing, b) fairytales and folklore, and c) brotherly-sisterly/family relationships.
So imagine how pleased I was to open The Darkest Part of the Forest to discover that it held all three? I have to confess that this is my first novel written by Holly Black I’ve ventured into reading. Her name for as long as I can remember has been recommended in regards to contemporary fantasy — and now I’ve finally, finally, finally read one of her novels I can see why. EASILY one of my favourite novels I’ve read all year… and people, I’ve read almost a hundred of them. (Actually — 99 by the time this post goes live.)
The Folk: Cunning, tricky little beasts that live side-by-side with the people of Fairfold.
And here lay one of my favourite elements of the forest. I adored how Holly Black incorporated a contemporary world with the paranormal, fantasy world to create something new and beautiful and wonderful. So perhaps this might not to be everyone’s tastes, but I loved it. Pretty much, the story goes like this: horned boy sleeps in coffin, horned boy gets out of coffin, lots of cool shit goes down. That, at least, is me summing up the novel in a terribly inadequate and inelegant way.
Characters! Oh, they were wonderful.
Hazel was a likeable and fierce heroine, with her flaws, yes, but likeable enough to make me care for her. And the best part of her? SHE LIKES LISTS. So here, clearly, me and Hazel share a kinship. But Hazel wasn’t the only good character in this story; her brother, Ben, was also great. And Jack, the changeling brother of Carter. Oh, and have I mentioned the horned boy?
I only have one small small small small complaint.
Despite the beautiful writing and intriguing world and fairytales and folklore and all manner of other beautiful things, I felt like there were multiple parts that draaaaaaaaaaggged. And dragged a little more. I, personally, thought that was because several chapters interspersed throughout the novel were dedicated to bits and pieces of folklore and character backstory. Which is FINE. I just wish it had been done a little less… obviously. That aside, this was a fantastic novel and I can’t wait to read another Holly Black novel.