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?
You know that wide-eyed wonder and enchantment you experience on your first trip to Disney World? Where you take everything in, breathing in the magic, falling in love with the incredible surroundings, you know, deep within your heart that something life-changing is about to happen? That’s what I felt from the first page of The Darkest Part of the Forest. If you’re in a reading slump, feeling a little jaded and tired, pick this up and fall head over heels for reading again.
- The Darkest Part of the Forest is foremost a love story. Love between a brother and sister is unusual in a YA paranormal book, I adored that romance was NOT the focus but a sidebar. Hazel and Ben have an easy connection based on years of adventure. Children of neglectful artistic parents, Ben and Hazel had to fend for themselves in a world of fae magic. All they had was each other and the idea that they could be heroes. Ben and Hazel’s quests in the forest were like knightly legends of old, full of mischief and chivalry, bravery and fierce determination. No matter the trouble they get into, Ben and Hazel are always there for each other. As they grew older, life drew them apart but that love is undeniable and the nostalgia is especially poignant.
- Hazel has a chronic case of the “ordinary” girl blues. Despite living in a world where magic is real and creatures of nightmares lurk in the shadows, Hazel struggles to deal with the fact that she’s average. Her brother is skilled at music, her parents are artists, and Hazel just is-the average teen girl. Hazel throws herself into random make out sessions to numb the pain of her total lack of excitement. Hazel mourns the loss of her childhood, when everyday was something new, she lived then in the moment with absolute spontaneity and recklessness. What Hazel misses more than anything is feeling that she had a purpose and a partner in crime with her brother. As things start to quickly go downhill in their enchanted little town, Hazel rekindles the spark within herself and discovers that sometimes ordinary is masking the extraordinary.
- Ben is unique. From his clothes to his music, he’s intriguing, intelligent, and draws you in. The parallel between love for the idea of the prince and how Ben views him romantically struck twofold when the prince woke. Ben saw the boy in the coffin as his confidant, his safe haven, and as the story develops, Ben’s passionate side comes to life.
- Holly Black is a master at incorporating these tiny stories that somehow explode into key plot points. Holly Black weaves fairy tales with serious skill. What feels like enthralling, somewhat random inclusions becomes story that you can’t get out of your head. These read like campfire tales, like bedtime stories, full of mystery and romance, of deceit and paranormal. From the sentence, the tale of the prince in the glass coffin is mesmerizing. I could not put this book down.
- Each fae creature has a story. No matter how brief, they’re colorful, dark, twisted, and full of passion. Some scenes are gruesome, graphic, and terrifying. Others are light, full of frivolity and triumph.
- The Prince is Otherworldly, beautiful, and mercurial. He wavers between deadly and lighthearted but always determined. He’s temptation and magic, fairy tales and daydreams brought to life. So much tension builds up to the first encounter that when it happens, it’s a shock.
- Jack is flirty, playful, and mysterious. The truth of his past, his role as a changeling, and his magic makes him intensely attractive. You need to know about him. The chemistry between Hazel and Jack is like a live wire waiting to strike. Electric and stimulating.
- The Alderking’s viciousness was muted. He felt like more hype than anything. I would have like to have seen more violence, more evil, and heard more of the sadistic adventures of his knights to hone in on his position as the main villain.
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this: