Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Pages: 328
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on January 13, 2015
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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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Filling the category “A Library Book” in my Full House Reading Challenge.

As most reviewers say, the books that are just ‘good’ are the hardest to review. Did I enjoy The Darkest Part of the Forest? Sure. Holly Black has a way of creating settings and characters that’s almost intoxicating. But I don’t really have ton to say about it. I don’t really feel strongly about much in the book. Should you read it? Probably. It’s a very well written book with solid characters and a very interesting plot. But did I love it? Not really.

Characters:

I didn’t really connect with the characters in this book. They were likable, sure. I wanted to know what happened to them. I wanted them to succeed, but I wasn’t really connected with them.

Hazel: She’s a strong heroine; I didn’t love her, but she didn’t back down from a fight, and she wasn’t a damsel in distress. She has a conflict later on that I found absolutely brilliant. Her relationship with Faerie is probably the best part of the book.

Ben: As a gay character, he struggles with that storyline, and being in love with the horned boy in the glass coffin,  but the one I found more interesting was his struggle with music. He is blessed (or cursed) with the gift of music by the fae when he’s a baby, and it affects his entire life. In good and bad ways.

Jack: I wanted more from Jack. As a changeling, I kept wanting more magic, more intrigue from him. He was sweet, and yet you were never quite sure what was motivating him, or where his loyalties really lay.

Severin: The horned boy in the glass coffin. I wanted more from his character as well. He wasn’t really likable, and for his and Ben’s story to really have resonance, I wanted to see more scenes with the two of them.

Plot:

It’s rare to find a stand alone these days in Young Adult, but Holly Black is quite exceptional at it. In The Darkest Part of the Forest, she creates a believable town trying to coexist with the Fair Folk. Faeries are dangerous, wild creatures, living in and around the town of Fairfold, the most famous of which is the horned boy in the glass coffin. Hazel and her brother Ben know more about the Fair Folk than most. When things start getting weird, like Hazel waking up in her bed, her feet covered in mud, strange names scrawled on her windowsill, they turn to the Fae for answers.

Some of the twists in this book are brilliant; I loved the faerie’s involvement with Hazel and her brother. A monster is terrorizing Fairfold, and Hazel seems to be the only one who can figure out what’s going on.

The way the book is written, with one chapter in the present, and the next sharing important information from the past, is interesting for a while, especially when you are first getting to know the characters, but when the plot starts picking up, it’s annoying. I wanted to focus on the plot, and Holly Black kept jumping back to some event in the past,  and even though it was vital information for the present, I wished it hadn’t been organized like that.

Romance:

The romance in this book wasn’t the most important storyline, which, in a story like this, is appropriate. Hazel and Jack are the typical, girl in love with her brother’s best friend. I actually found Ben and Severin’s relationship almost more interesting, and wanted to see more scenes with them. Hazel and Jack would have been interesting to follow into Faerie, but there weren’t as many opportunities for that as I wanted. I feel like this may have been because Jack’s character didn’t seem super well fleshed out.

Conclusion:

If you like books involving wild and creepy Fae, this is a good one to pick up. I read it quite quickly, and overall enjoyed it. The setting is well done, and the plot well planned. This is a good read for fans of Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely.

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