Published: January 15th 2015 by HachetteAU
Format: ARC, 272 pages
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy
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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?
There are plenty of amazing books coming out this year, and I think this book should be on every one of those lists! The Darkest Part of the Forest is a wonderful fairytale retelling that will capture many hearts and imaginations.
This book is set in the small town of Fairfold. The locals there know about the Folk and how to keep them at bay. But the glass coffin in the middle of the forest attracts tourists and the Folk prey upon them. The locals think this is only fair because they have to leave offerings out for the faeries and put up with a changeling living among them. Hazel and Ben have lived their entire lives here (except for a brief stint in Philadelphia that no one likes to think about), and know how deceptively peaceful Fairfold is.
The dark, creepy, and magical atmosphere of the book is wonderfully created by the author. It’s conveyed though suspicions and secrets, whispered warnings and things unsaid. Although the ideas aren’t new – magical swords, princes, and bargains with the fey – what Holly Black does with them is amazing. I especially enjoyed the history of the sleeping prince and the part he played in the story (I can’t say more because of the spoilers, but it’s awesome, trust me!)
Hazel used to hunt down and kill dangerous faeries with her brother when they were both younger, but now they’ve grown up they have other things on their minds. Hazel is always up for an adventure, and always up for kissing boys. She uses these as distractions from the lies she’s told and the decisions she’s made. Hazel is fiercely loyal to her family and I loved how brave she is – she’s the knight in this fairytale and I think is an awesome role-reversal.
Possessed of the gift of music because of fairy magic, best friends with a changeling, and in love with a fairy prince, Ben has secrets and doubts of his own. I love the relationship he has with Hazel because I don’t get to see many positive sibling relationships in books. The Darkest Part of the Forest doesn’t have just one protagonist, it has two! Ben is just as important to the story as Hazel, and I really enjoyed adventuring with both.
The relationships in this book, whether between siblings, parents and children, best friends, or those just starting to fall in love, are amazing. Holly Black does a wonderful job of exploring all the bonds that people have with each other and she’s cemented her place as one of the best writers I’ve ever read.
The Darkest Part of the Forest is a creative and deliciously dark novel that will please many audiences. I loved every page of it and can’t wait to rush out and grab myself a finished copy. Fans of Holly Black won’t want to miss this amazing stand-alone adventure, and those new to her works would be doing themselves a favour if they ran out and picked this up on release day.