Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the ForestTitle: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Source/Format: Won, Print ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Paranormal 
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, January 13, 2015
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

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 no stranger to Holly Black’s books. I enjoyed her Modern Faerie Tale series and liked the work she did with Tony DiTerlizzi on The Spiderwick Chronicles. Next on my list was The Darkest Part of the Forest.

At first, I had some reservations about how the story would work. The book is a standalone and the hype was tremendous at the time of its release. So, I was expecting a complete story with an ending good enough to be considered satisfying. Thankfully, I got what I was expecting. The story was good, and I did enjoy the book.

Black knows how to write faeries well, and does it in a style that’s shows the grittier, darker nature of the fey while playing off common themes—such as the magic and allergy to iron—while twisting them to suite the story. As with Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside before it, The Darkest Part of the Forest seemed to hold true to some of these themes. The setting of Fairfold complemented the atmosphere of mystery and magic that embroiled the character’s lives.

Hazel and Ben, brother and sister, were right in the middle of the mystery surrounding the glass coffin and the boy who slept within. After all, they had grown up in Fairfold, surrounded by magic and faeries their entire lives. Black showed how the environment had begun to affect them in different ways over time—shaping them into the characters that took center focus in the book.

Amidst the trouble brewing in Fairfold, really, The Darkest Part of the Forest was Hazel and Ben’s story—about their past and their present, and how their decisions were interpreted and the unforeseen consequences for their actions.

The ending was good, and the last several chapters consisted of my favorite parts. That is to say, there were plenty of surprises, and I was pretty happy about that. So, I definitely wasn’t disappointed by The Darkest Part of the Forest.

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