February 18, 2015
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?
Title: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST
Author: Holly Black
Pub. Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **
I have loved author Holly Black’s novels ever since I first read her modern faerie tale novels years ago. They were my first taste of urban fantasy and got me hooked on her writing. About a year ago I had the opportunity to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown which was not only fantastic but also one of my favourite reads ever. Getting to read The Darkest Part of the Forest had me jumping for joy with excitement. Returning to her world filled with terrifying faeries in the form of a small town filled with the fay was something that I just couldn’t pass up.
The Darkest Part of the Forest tells the story of siblings Hazel and Ben who have grown up in a small town where the existence of faeries and magic is commonplace. Before his birth Ben received a gift from a faerie to be musically inclined and has been an amazing musician ever since. Meanwhile Hazel, his younger sister, has been about as average as can be. She lives recklessly. Leaving no stone unturned and no boy un-kissed. Deep within the forests near their town is a boy in a coffin who hasn’t been woken up for decades. Everyone in town adores him. Hazel and Ben especially. He’s their prince and the last thing they expect is for him to wake up. Paired with a boy who isn’t at all what he seems, Hazel is told by the boy in the coffin—or Severin—that a wicked entity is about to be unleashed on her hometown. The only way to stop it? To become the knight she has always dreamed of being.
I had a few problems with The Darkest Part of the Forest that I haven’t had before with Black’s novels. The first being the constant shifting in the novel. We are originally introduced to Hazel and Ben and told about their closeness as siblings. They are practically each other’s best friends. However about a quarter through the novel we are abruptly notified that Hazel and Ben also partook in certain activities that allow the plot to move along. There were a lot of sudden stop-and-go changes that occurred throughout the novel and left my mind reeling. All of this new information took away from pacing in spite of how beautifully these scenes were written.
I enjoyed the characters in the novel a lot. Like always, Black writes strong female characters who push the story forward. I feel that a lot of teen readers will be able to relate to the character Hazel as well as Ben, a queer character. Severin was my personal favourite in the story. The boy in the coffin with horns who is mysterious and described in a way that made me feel like one of those heart-eye emojis. What did shock me a bit about Severin’s character was how quick he was to kiss characters. I’m all for sudden romance to be included in the story, but the side-plot involving romantic aspects felt unrealistic even or a novel about faeries.
The Darkest Part of the Forest has a story that I think readers will be able to appreciate and remember. The story is unique and dark, something unsurprising for Black’s work. Any readers who are new to Black’s stories will definitely enjoy her prose and creativity. I’m looking forward to what she’ll come up with next.
I would recommend this novel to readers who are fans of Holly Black’s previous novels as well as fans of Cassandra Claire and her The Mortal Instruments series. Readers who enjoy novels about faeries and the supernatural/paranormal should also give this a read. Anyone looking for a novel to pass the time with or a memorable read should also check out The Darkest Part of the Forest.
Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of both an Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. Her new books are The Darkest Part of the Forest, a return to faerie fiction, and The Iron Trial, the first book in a middle grade fantasy series, Magisterium, co-authored by Cassandra Clare. Holly currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.