Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 1/13/15
Genres: Fairy Tales Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing shown)
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?
This was my first Holly Black book, and I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about. Black has an amazing ability to create a fantastical world and tie it into our own – I loved how the fae world collided with the “real” world in this book!
What I LOVED:
- The small town feel mixed with magic. I loved how Black managed to take this realistic-feeling small town and turn it into something extraordinary. Fairfold is a strange little tourist town, filled with magic – a sort of dark, sinister magic that the townsfolk know better than to mess with (most of the time). The fae in Fairfold are dark creatures, and you have to be careful if you live in Fairfold (and even more careful if you visit it!). Still, in a lot of ways, it felt like a real-life small town, and I really felt myself believing in the world that Black created. The fae are dangerous and creepy in this book – which I loved!
- Jack. Jack is definitely my favorite character in the book. He is Ben’s best friend and Hazel’s crush. He’s also a changeling – one of the fae tried to exchange him for a human child, but the human mother caught her, and forced her to give her back her own son. The human mother kept Jack as well and basically raised them as twins. I loved Jack’s relationship with his family. He knows he’s different – he can’t resist the call of the fae, even though he knows it hurts his mother. And he’s always just a little bit unsure about where he stands with his human family, even though they’ve always treated him like one of their own. He can’t help but feel like something “other.” And, as we learn as the book moves on, he is something other – something that both fascinates and scares Hazel. I loved discovering more about him, and learning his secrets.
- Family ties and secrets. This book is easily as much about the relationship between Hazel and her brother Ben as it is about the romance or the fairy storyline. Ben and Hazel were very close as kids, but their relationship has been strained recently because of secrets that they’ve been keeping and an inability to talk about their issues. When Ben and Hazel strike out to learn the mysteries of the boy in the coffin, they work together in some ways, but they also have a hard time getting past the barriers that have built up between them. I loved learning more and more about what happened between these two as the book went on!
- Bit slow in the middle. My one complaint was that the book did seem to drag a bit in the middle for some inexplicable reason (I couldn’t quite put my finger on why). While the setting and the fae were compelling, I think I didn’t quite find myself invested enough in Hazel’s personal journey to wait to get to the real action. Still, the beginning and ending made up for a slightly slow middle.
I’ll definitely be reading more Black in the future. I loved the intriguing fae world that she created! I give this book 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh) The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart). She is also the co-editor of three anthologies, Geektastic (with Cecil Castellucci), Zombies vs. Unicorns (with Justine Larbalestier), and Welcome to Bordertown (with Ellen Kushner). Her most recent works are the middle grade novel, Doll Bones, and the dark fantasy stand-alone, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.