The Darkest Part of the Forest is my first Holly Black novel and I do believe I will be reading more of her books. Read on for my spoiler-free thoughts!
YA Fiction, complete with magic, fairies, and tiny bit of romance
Anyone interested in stories related to the Fair Folk (a.k.a. Fairies) or all things fantastical in general
Overview (From book)
Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side. Since they were children, Hazel and Ben have been telling each other stories about the boy in the glass coffin: that he is a prince and they are valiant knights. But as Hazel grows up, she puts aside those stories. Hazel knows the horned boy will never wake.
Until one day, he does…
Holy Fairfold, Batman! The setting was BY FAR my favorite part of this book 😱😍 A world pretty much like our own, except fae exist and live within close proximity (if not in peaceful coexistence) to humans. And the humans know about it/them! Well, in this particular town of Fairfold at least. It was strange, wondrous, cool, and terrifying at the same time.
TDPOTF mainly followed brother and sister Hazel and Ben, both of whom are in high school. The story alternates between their perspectives (along with an additional perspective on occasion), so the audience gets a chance to learn more about each character, their motives, personalities, etc. With that being said, I do think Hazel is in first place for main character.
What I Liked
Besides the setting? I appreciated the alternating perspectives as mentioned above and all-in-all I thought it was a unique plot (setting included), which I found refreshing. It was also fast-paced, making it a quick read. Plus it was a stand alone, so I didn’t have to worry about any pesky cliffhangers.
I also loved that Black’s depiction of the fae was darker and warier than a lot of what I’ve seen recently (which is typically emphatically romanticized). Don’t get me wrong, the fae in TDPOTF were still “inhumanly beautiful” and all that jazz, but Black didn’t shy away from the sinister side either. And the humans in her story knew it too. It reminded me of all the stories and superstitions I grew up with in Hawai’i (which is a melting pot of cultures, so there are A LOT of different superstitions). Things like: if you’re in an isolated area and a voice calls your name, don’t respond (don’t even turn towards the voice); don’t whistle at night; don’t take rocks from places, beaches or otherwise; salt has healing and protective properties; as does the ti plant (well – the protective part anyway); night marcher routes, deep forests, and mountain tops are realms that should not be traveled by humans; etc. The gist was that you should always be respectful and slightly on guard. Aaannnd I’ve gotten side-tracked. The point being, this particular story reminded me of all the superstitions I grew up with and I
liked loved that.
What I Liked a Little Less
I wasn’t really a fan of the way the narrative switched back and forth between the past and the present. I definitely see the merits of telling the story this way, especially when it comes to exploring a character’s background and previous experiences that drive his/her present-day actions, but I still found myself wanting to rush through those parts to get back to what was currently happening.
TDPOTF gets 4/5 ✨ It was refreshing and imaginative and I’m curious to read more of Holly Black’s novels.