Monday, December 15, 2014

Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black {review}

The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black
♦publisher: Little Brown BYR
♦release date: January 13, 2015
♦hardcover, 336 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand alone
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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?

Review:  Confession...I haven't read a Holly Black book since reading the Spiderwick Chronicles with my kids. But I looooved them. And I was so excited to see Black return her stories to fairyland with The Darkest Part of the Forest.  But I have to say that while the writing was very lyrical and beautiful, the story and characters (for the most part) didn't really draw me in. 

The writing, like I said, is worth another mention---there were literally some turns of phrase that I just had to reread in absolute awe at the gorgeousness. Black knows how to bring fairyland alive for her readers with beautifully visualized creatures and a creepy atmospheric mood that makes you feel like the characters can be swept away by the fae at any moment, never to be seen again. The town of Fairfold is full of oddities defined by their knowledge of the nearby Fae. They struck a deal long ago that the people of Fairfold were safe but the tourist are basically fair game for the fae to snatch away or torment.  

The story was good, but just felt a little muddled to me, both emotionally and plotwise.  It had a slow start and took a long time to get to a place where I was invested. Its a bad sign when the beginning starts out introducing a fair amount of characters at a party and the one character that turns you off the most turns out to be the protagonist. Hazel did kind of grow on me by the end; she is definitely lost and utterly flawed, and I did love the connection between her and her brother Ben. Ben was sweet, but I couldn't help but find him a bit broody, bordering on sulky.  Their backstory is good and gave you a perspective on their bond---they had horrible flaky parents who left them unattended and hungry while they partied the night away when they were very young. Because of that, they are both kind of a mess when it comes to trust and relationships.  They consider themselves kind of wild and they think of the boy in the coffin as their prince.  

The one character I really loved was Jack. He is a changeling but he's grown up among the humans.  He has such a genuine honesty to him and he's so torn between the two worlds, never really feeling comfortable in either.  Both worlds turn on him and he still finds a way to stand by his family and friends.  

The actual love stories were just okay for me, but there are some definite pulse-racing  scenes! Steamy kisses on rooftops and treetops and rolling around in the woods! ;)

All in all, not everything I'd hoped for in my return to Holly Black's books, but it was another intriguing visit to the land of Faerie!  

Find Holly Black online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Buy the book: Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


  1. Confession: I've never read a Holly Black book. None of her books, ever, so I'm a lot worse. I kind of want to though. But I'm not sure if I should start reading books from her with The Darkest Part of The Forest...especially since it sounded like it wasn't super great. And that MG book she wrote with Cassandra Clare also got mostly negative reviews. I might have to wait for another book to come out from her that's amazing or see if I get this spur of the moment need to read TDPOTF. Either way, I'm glad I read your review! I haven't seen many for this book :)

  2. Bri (Books and Ashes)December 16, 2014 at 4:55 AM

    I've thought about getting this one, but I wasn't sure if it would live up close to her Spiderwick Chronicles since those were the only ones by her I've read (and I loved them, I thought they were really awesome).

  3. awww, too bad!! i really loved her other fey series. thanks for sharing!

  4. Awww I hope I'll like it cause I really enjoyed her Coldest Girl in Coldtown! You should give that one a try! Thanks for the review :D

  5. I'm new to Holly Black books, but I'm always open to a new author. Would this be a good one to start with?

  6. Awesome review Becky. <3 I'm sorry it wasn't all you wanted it to be :\ but happy you still enjoyed it :D I'm curious about this one. I'm glad there are some awesome romance scenes, hiih :D And so glad you loved the writing as well. <3 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie :)

  7. I love the cover for this book, and I used to read the Spiderwick Chronicles, too, but never got around to reading her more recent stuff.
    I'm glade I read your review because it sounds really interesting.

  8. Helpful review! I want to read this at some point, but now I feel better about putting off buying it for a while (trying to behave myself after the recent book outlet sales)

  9. I really want to read this book because anyone I've talked to who has read it either really liked it or really didn't like it so I still don't have a good idea of whether it's worth reading or not. Your review sways me to making it higher on my To Be Read list :)

  10. Overall, I have heard pretty good things about this book! I have never read any Holly Black books before so that might help me not to have such high hopes when I go to read it!

  11. I've only read the Spiderwick Chronicles too. I've heard amazing things about this one and it does sound very intriguing. So glad that the writing is top notch. Definitely picking thus one up.