Monday, December 15, 2014

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

The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black
Read: November 24 - 27, 2014
January 13, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Edelweiss (THANK YOU, LB!)
Tags: YA contemporary fantasy, fae, sleeping fairies, knights

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository  

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?


I'm a fan of Holly Black and The Darkest Part of the Forest is so classic her, in both her storytelling method and in the contents of the tale. She even takes us back to one of her first loves - fairies, while still adding a contemporary flair to the story. The book is told in third person, mostly from MC Hazel's perspective. But there are some alternating chapters with flashbacks and scenes from a few other characters' POVs. While this can slow down the plot a little bit, I love the way Black's style allows me to dig into her characters and setting. Of course, Black continues to pull her characters out of clearly defined, or regular gender roles. In this story, a girl can be a knight and dream of rescuing the sleeping boy in the coffin.  

Hazel and her brother Ben live in an American town called Fairfold, that is located somewhere within driving distance of Philadelphia. Like any other small town it has it's own secrets and quirks. Though Fairfold's secrets are perhaps stranger than most. In the forest lies a clearing, and in the clearing lies a casket, and in the casket lies a boy with horns. He's been sleeping there as long as anyone can remember. No one can open the casket or wake the boy, though Hazel and Ben have spent their lives dreaming of rescuing their prince. When the boy does wake up, everything changes, and the strange things in the woods all of a sudden seem more restless and dangerous than they were before. 

I love the way Black mixes contemporary with magic and mayhem. Her stories have a dreamlike fairy tale quality and you just have to follow where they lead, but they also mix in the bright colors and themes of contemporary life. It's a decadent combination that works well in this book. As Black is known to do, there's at least one pretty great surprise in this story.

I didn't always relate to Hazel's choices, but the more I got to know her, the more I understood and admired her. She is fierce and continues fighting, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and overwhelming revelations. I also fell so hard for the characters that surround her, including her brother Ben

This book has two romances, both which I liked very much once they got going. I did worry at one point that a scary love shape was about to appear, but thankfully it never materializes. I enjoyed both Hazel and Ben's loves. I knew who I wanted each of them to be with, and was pleased with how they worked out. But I especially loved Hazel and Ben's relationship with each other and the way it progressed throughout the story. I wanted them  to find the closeness they shared as children, but I loved how they protected each other, no matter what. 

If you are a fan of Holly Black, don't miss this one! It's also a great book to read if you've yet to discover her writing. 

Love Triangle Factor: None. But it feels mild at some points. I definitely feared a triangle at one point, but, the story was always going in one direction for Hazel and her Brother's romance.  
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 


  1. This story sounds wonderful Lauren! I've not read a book by Black before, but this book sounds like a great one to start with! Wonderful review! :)

  2. I pre-ordered this book a long time ago and your review just made me even more excited for this book!!!!!! Holly Black is my favorite author and I just can't get enough of the fantasy worlds she creates. Glad to hear there's no triangle in this. I was worried because the blurb made it seem like there might be. Thanks for this review Lauren!

  3. You know, there's nothing like a little magic and mayhem! I have this one on my shelf and I've pulled it off a couple times but just never cracked the spine...yet. I'm thinking that I need to add it to my Winter Break pile (I plan to do a lot of reading and reviewing, considering I've been a major slacker in both departments).

  4. Yay :D Amazing review Lauren. <3 I'm so glad you mostly loved this book. Now I'm more excited about getting it when it comes out :) I'm so curious about it. <3 And ack. So glad there is no love triangle. Though almost, hmph. I don't like the sound of that, lol. But happy you liked the romance. <3 and the sibling relationship. Excited about that too :D Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  5. I was on the fence about this one even though I loved Holly Black's Coldest Girl in Cold Town. Maybe I thought it was Middle Grade? It sounds like it isn't. Glad you enjoyed it and I'm adding it to my TBR and so glad it's a standalone!! Great review! ~Pam

  6. Oh fun! The only other Holly Black (by herself) book that I've read is The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, but I've read it twice and liked it a ton both times. I love how you describe this story because it sounds magical and whimsical and just FUN. And I'm so curious about how the love "shape" unfolds without actually unfolding. This one sounds like a great one to pick up when I'm not itching for a series, particularly since I know that you enjoyed it.


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