I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Published: 2015 by Little Brown and Company
Genres: Fantasy, Horror/Gothic, Young Adult
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads
Disclaimer: This is a ridiculously early review.
Under normal circumstances I’d wait to post this review until much closer to the publication date, but Holly Black is important. My little sister is a huge Holly Black fan, and since we live several states away from each other, I wanted to read/review The Darkest Part of the Forest before passing the book along for her to read.
I love the way that Holly Black manages to blend a story about contemporary teenagers with the faerie mythology. There’s this town called Fairfold. It’s your typical rural American town, except for the faeries that dwell in the surrounding forests. People in Fairfold know that the faeries are dangerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but nobody from out of town *really* believes in them. It’s a tourist attraction, and if tourists end up dead, well, freak accidents happen. That’s where Hazel and her brother Ben spent their dysfunctional childhood. Hazel dreamed of one day becoming a knight to fight the evils that lurk within the forest, but as she grows up, she becomes a typical teenager who is a little bit awkward and likes kissing boys because it makes her feel good. Her brother Ben is also into boys. He’s got his own issues with the fae, because he was cursed as a child to play music that can enchant people, but he doesn’t know how to control his powers.
There’s a faerie boy in a glass coffin in the woods. He’s always been there, and nobody can break the coffin. Then the unthinkable happens.
The characters are so perfect, precisely because they’re imperfect and have issues. They make stupid decisions in a very human way. We all know that making a bargain with the faerie is a bad idea, but people do it anyway because they feel trapped by their circumstances and want to take agency to solve their problems, even if there is no easy solution and every action has lasting consequences. And sometimes we find ourselves not confiding in the people that we love because we feel so alienated that we think that nobody will understand us, only to find that people are more accepting of us than we think.
The Darkest Part of the Forest is dark, creepy, and filled with the deliciously-dangerous-because-morally-ambiguous angry fae. It’s the kind of book that makes me remember my childhood days of reading under the covers with a flashlight because you have to know what happens next and won’t be able to sleep until you do even though you know you have to wake up early the next day.