The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black
Summary: 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?
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Source: I purchased a hardcover from my local indie bookstore.
The Darkest Part of the Forest has the most alluring cover. I’m a fan of Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong by picking this book up. Fairies and danger in a small, strange town? Sign me up! I was slightly discouraged by some of the 3 star ratings for the book, but I’m glad that I picked it up because I enjoyed it. Don’t let any low reviews fool you. The Darkest Part of the Forest was everything I wanted it to be.
Hazel was a strange person. She didn’t like to get close to people, even her brother who was perhaps her closest friend. Their parents practically neglected them because they were so spaced out. They lived in a town where the Fairfolk roamed, but as long as you were from the town and didn’t act like a tourist, you were typically safe from harm. When Hazel and Ben were kids, they pretended they’d save the boy in the coffin in the middle of the woods. They fought the Fairfolk and went on adventures.
Things had changed for Hazel and Ben as teenagers, but the horned boy in the coffin finally woke. And their adventure truly began. The Darkest Part of the Forest dealt with the things I love about Fae lore, but also dealt with the complications of growing up, letting people in, and finding out who you really were.
I thought the book was a great blend of YA fiction and fairytale, with just enough strangeness to make it interesting without the whole run-of-the-mill girl finds herself in some evil queen’s court and learns about the Fae. I liked that the town kind of bordered the land of the Fae and a lot of the strangeness leaked into the human world enough so that the locals understood what they were and how to survive. The book wasn’t a fairy tale retelling or an Alice in Wonderland drop into the land of the Fae, either, and I loved that about it.
The Darkest Part of the Forest did not disappoint. I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who loves a little strangeness mixed in with their stories. It’s exactly what I was in the mood for on a cold and rainy November day. I also loved that there was an ending and it wasn’t a set up for a 3+ book series. Sometimes I hate how often non-contemporary books aren’t stand-alone novels, so I always appreciate a good stand-alone with some otherworldly elements.
Labels: fairytale, Review, YA