ARC Review – The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

January 7, 2015 Reviews 21 ★★★★

ARC Review – The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 1/13/15
Genres: Fairy Tales Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: BEA
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing shown)
My rating:
4 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?

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My Take

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!

The negatives:

  • 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 BlackHolly 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.

Author Links:
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21 Responses to “ARC Review – The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black”

  1. kindlemom1

    I am so glad you liked this so much. I have seen a few negative reviews for it and they have made me sad because I really want to give this one a try. Your review gives me hope that this just might be for me after all. 🙂

    kindlemom1 recently posted: WoW Pick of the Week
    • Nicole

      Yes, there was a portion in the middle where I was definitely a little bit worried, but I was happy with how it all worked out!

  2. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    I agree with absolutely all of this! I LOVED Jack, and I really thought the book was done incredibly well. I mean, I didn’t think the faerie stuff seemed at all forced or unbelievable, and I loved the family relationship stuff (and the romance stuff of course!). I do agree that there was a little something missing. I had attributed it to a bit of a disconnect with Hazel, but you are right, the middle was a bit slow at times. Overall, I really liked it, and I am glad you did too!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted: Review: Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah
    • Nicole

      Actually, when I read your review I started to wonder if the reason that the middle felt a little slow was because I felt a bit of that disconnect with Hazel too – that middle part focused a lot on her inner struggles.

  3. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    Love your paragraph about Jack – he was my favorite too! I think the middle was kind of muddled because Hazel didn’t know what she was doing, so her narration came off a bit odd. But wow that ending really picked up! I think one of the best parts of the book was how atypical the romances turned out – it was so unexpected 😀

    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted: Contemporary Conversations: A March Event!
    • Nicole

      Ha! Funny, I actually thought right from the very beginning that the romances were going to end up the way they did (but I still really enjoyed them!). But, yes – Jack was my absolute favorite!

  4. Danielle @ Love at First Page

    Thanks for your review! The only thing I’ve read by Holly Black is her short story in My True Love Gave To Me… I wasn’t a big fan, and I’ve heard her books are fairly weird. I’m not a fan of weird usually. But this does sound like something I may enjoy. Especially Jack. 🙂

    Great review, lady!

    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted: Series Review: Article 5
  5. Olivia

    I haven’t read a book by Holly Black before, so I really think I will try this one! It’s a shame that it lagged a bit in the middle, but otherwise it seems good. And the magical aspect of it seems to be handled well 🙂

    Olivia recently posted: Editing Your Story (Guest Post)

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