Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (January 13, 2015)

Description: A girl makes a secret sacrifice to the faerie king in this lush New York Times bestselling fantasy by author Holly Black

In the woods is a glass coffin. It rests on the ground, and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives....

Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side. Since they were children, Hazel and Ben have been telling each other stories about the boy in the glass coffin, that he is a prince and they are valiant knights, pretending their prince would be different from the other faeries, the ones who made cruel bargains, lurked in the shadows of trees, and doomed tourists. But as Hazel grows up, she puts aside those stories. Hazel knows the horned boy will never wake.

Until one day, he does....

As the world turns upside down, Hazel has to become the knight she once pretended to be.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is bestselling author Holly Black's triumphant return to the opulent, enchanting faerie tales that launched her YA career.

My Thoughts: This contemporary fantasy stars Hazel and Ben who live in Fairfold. It is a town where humans and the Folk mingle and most humans survive as long as they are careful. The local kids party at the coffin of a boy with horns and pointed ears. He's been sleeping for generations. Both Hazel and Ben love him and spend time with the coffin talking about their hopes and dreams.

Hazel and Ben have been raised by their artist parents in a way that could best be described as benign neglect. They were free to run wild in the woods but they were also not sure that their parents would remember to feed or clothe them.

Ben was gifted by a one of the fey with a gift for music. Hazel makes a bargain with the fey so that he can get the education he needs. At age eleven, she gives up seven years of her life for this wish. However, things don't go well when they move to the city for Ben's schooling. He is afraid of his music which can hold his audiences spellbound and breaks his hand to make it impossible for him to continue his music. Ben giving up his music doesn't change Hazel's agreement with faerie though she keeps it a secret from Ben.

Ben and Hazel are good friends with Jack who was a changeling substituted for Carter. When Carter's mother noticed the substitution, she forced the fey to give Carter back but also decided to keep Jack because she said a mother who would give him away wasn't fit to have him. Jack has grown up with Hazel and Ben and seems human.

But one day everything changes. Someone has finally managed to break open the horned boy's glass coffin and now the alderking wants him back. Hazel learns that she's been spending her nights paying off her debt to faerie and has been training as one of the king's knights. Now she has been instructed to return the horned boy to the king or he will unleash the worst of the fey on Fairfold.

This was a wonderful story which masterfully combined our world with the world of The Folk. It pulls from all sorts of faerie stories for its inspiration. The characters - Hazel, Ben, Jack, and the horned boy whose name is Severin - were all well-developed and were all interesting people. The story had adventure and romance.

Favorite Quote:
They were in love with him because he was a prince and a faerie and magical and you were supposed to love princes and faeries and magical people. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh nice! This one is still on my TBR pile! Glad to hear it was an enjoyable read!


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