Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Friday 29 May 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest
Holly Black
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young adult
Published: January 13th 2015
Pages: 324
Rating: 2 stars

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?

The Darkest Part of the Forest doesn't waste any time in jumping in to the story of the sleeping faerie prince. I thought he would be a secret only the main characters knew about, but no, the whole town knows about him and has seen him. Just from this, I was disappointed by the story, and I wasn't even one chapter in.

There is a whole cast of characters introduced in the first 10 pages, which left me a little overwhelmed. The first chapter also talks about a changeling and other things related to the Folk - as they are referred to in this book - and how they are normal in the town of Fairfold. It wasn't quite what I was expecting and I'll admit that it did put me off and lower my expectations for the rest of the story.

I found that I didn't really like Hazel or Ben, either. I don't know what it was about them but I just didn't really connect or have feelings one way or another about them. To me, they came across as very cookie-cutter young adult characters, who were just rather mediocre all around. I think I was looking for something very wild and different going into this book, and ended up being let down on all counts.

However, things did improve after the horned boy - Severin - was woken. While the plot did pick up and things actually started to happen, I didn't feel like the pace did. It still took me while to get through, and I wasn't entirely sure - or sold - on where things were going. 

It's a shame, really. I consider myself a fan of Holly Black's work, but this fell short and left me fairly disappointed. If you're new to her work, or to fey fantasy in general, I'd say don't start with this.

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