Series: Stand Alone
Published by Brown Books for Young Readers, Little on January 13, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
You ever see a book and just know you have to read it, based on the cover alone? And then you find out what it’s about and you realize you were right? It is a book MADE for you? That’s me and The Darkest Part of the Forest. And I thought I’d have to wait until January 2015 to read it… But thanks to Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings I read it in November 2014. Thanks Anya!
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?
When I first started reading The Darkest Part of the Forest it surprised me. For some reason after reading the synopsis, I thought this was going to be a historical fantasy world. I don’t know if that’s what you are expecting – but that’s not it at all. No this is our world. And not really even a different version of our world. Its just that in this one little town – Fairfold – most people know that the Fae are real and very present. It’s good for their tourism – kind of surprisingly since the tourists are the ones most hurt by the Fae.
But one of the main attractions is a boy, sleeping (not dead, though how they know that I have no idea) in a glass coffin – an unbreakable, glass coffin. He’s a point of interest for tourists and locals alike – a focal point for teenage parties. But two people in the town – siblings Hazel and Ben are OBSESSED with the boy. But then Hazel and Ben aren’t quite normal anyway.
The way Holly Black wrote Hazel and Ben is probably my favorite part of The Darkest Part of the Forest. Hazel – not Ben – dreams of being a knight. Not a princess, but a knight. LOVE IT! Who says every little girl wants a princess dress, right? And Hazel holds onto those dreams as she grows up and even though she struggles for various reasons, she hasn’t lost that part of herself.
And Ben, well he basically is the one who dreams of being the princess (so to speak). He’s not a fighter – he’s sensitive and has a a musical gift/curse. Who says every boy has to dream of being a knight? LOVE IT! Better yet, Ben is openly gay and through him we get a sweet romance.
I loved the sibling part of the story – probably because I see a lot of my brother and myself in Hazel and Ben. I want to take care of everyone and protect them and he’s always been more (seemingly) carefree and light.
I think The Darkest Part of the Forest was a great story, from the fantasy and action to the relationships. The mystery was interesting and had a couple twists I didn’t see coming. And I just loved the use of a small town that’s supposed to be part of our world but sits somewhere on the fringe. A great book to pick up and start 2015 right!