Monday, January 26, 2015

The Darkest Part of The Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Available Now
YA/ Faerie/ Dark Fantasy/
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardback 336 pages
Personal Copy
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio CD/ Audible
BN/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads 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?

This is a story about the darker faeries. It reminds me of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely faeries. Capable of love and goodness, but tending toward their dark side, manipulating people and doing truly awful things. It's dark, almost gothic, but not set in a house rather a town, and the darkest part of the forest. It is a place that can be familiar and foreign in an instant and both Hazel and her brother Ben have spent their childhood there fighting the evil creatures that do evil things. But then they left.

The story starts with grown versions of Hazel and Ben and winds itself back to their childhood. It isn't a pretty journey, in the woods, nor at home. But Hazel and Ben make the best of things and find their happiness in the stories they weave about the boy in the glass coffin, the boy they both love. I can understand escaping into stories, especially fantasy. But their faeries are real.

Fairfold is interesting, reminding me of a Southern town that sweeps the ugly bits behind closed doors. Keeps it's secrets so that the tourists don't hear the stories, or if they do, they don't seem to care enough to stop visiting the boy in the forest. The town makes a lot of business off of the tourists. The faeries are good for business so they never say a word about the changeling boy that lives with his brother, the one the faeries tried to steal. They never mind leaving milk and other gifts out for the faeries until someone breaks the boy out of the coffin. Until the attacks on the locals begin. 

I love the way Holly Black takes a simple story, a family story, and explores it on several different levels.  The relationship between siblings, brother and sister, brother and brother, the relationship between parent and child- mother and children, father and children, and family. 

Hazel is the narrator and she is no girl to be rescued. She is smart, brave, and loyal. Hazel loves her brother and Fairfold enough to sacrifice herself if need be. She reminded me very much of the character in BEWARE THE WILD BY NATALIE PARKER, another girl that loved her brother so much, she went into a swamp to save her brother. This novel was just as atmospheric and held me spellbound as I read. 

It was refreshing to see a LGBT character or more that were just characters, complete characters, no stereotyping. So don't think of this as an issue book. It isn't. Imagine, a book with diverse characters and it isn't an issue book. How lovely! 

I highly recommend this novel to lovers of faerie tales, romances, family stories,  This is a great story with a lot of action, a lot of unique fae, and some interesting retellings of old stories. Holly Black includes some of her sources in the back and an interesting list of authors in her acknowledgements. There is some violence in the novel, not gratuitous but this is the fae in what some would call their truer form. They are teens so the usual teen shenanigans happening as far as drinking and thoughts about sex.



  1. I loved Black's Curse Workers Series but I haven't heard overly positive reviews of this one, hence the reason I've avoided it. But, your review definitely has me re-evaluating this one and I think I'll have to give it a try since I've enjoyed Black's previous works so much. Wonderful review, Heather! :)

  2. I like the darker fey and I think Black does them very well. I'm glad this one has diversity without the added issues thrown in. I'll have to check this one out from the library. Great review, Heather!

  3. I am reading some solid reviews of this one. I still haven't read a book by this author, and I am thinking I really need to pick this up. I like the sounds of the characters and that they avoid stereotypes, plus the setting is something I will like as well. Thanks for the wonderful review, Heather.

  4. I want to read this one! I so enjoy her writing so this one was a must for me. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. On the wishlist it goes! :D

  5. Never read a book about fairies but I'd love to! I'll definitely pick this up! *-*

    Ps. I have a blog as well, if you want to stop by I'd appreciate it so much! It's both in Italian and in English :3 ->

  6. This sounds like a lovely book, I'm pretty sure I have an ARC of it lying somewhere. Glad you loved it <3 Lovely review!

    Benish | Feminist Reflections


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