Saturday, May 16, 2015

Black Returns to Faerie Tale Roots with The Darkest Part of the Forest

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fairfold may look like an ordinary town, but it has something other villages don't—the Folk.  Here, faeries and other fantastical creatures co-exist with humans, sometimes peacefully, other times not.  Locals know to be wary of the Folk, whose "generosity ... was as great as their cruelty" (19).  Tourists, however, can't stay away from the living, breathing fairy tale that is Fairfold.  No amount of warning can convince them to stay away or to, at least, watch their backs.  For, as everyone in town knows, the Folk can be tricksy.  Very, very tricksy.  After all, "that was why Fairfold was special, because it was so close to magic.  Dangerous magic, yes, but magic all the same" (19). 

Hazel Evans and her older brother, Ben, are especially enamored with the mysterious boy in the woods.  For as long as anyone can remember, he's slept inside a glass coffin in the woods.  With horns on his head and sharp, pointy ears, the boy is mesmerizing in his otherworldly beauty.  For years, Hazel and Ben have visited him, made up stories about his origin, and pretended to be knights, protecting him with their valor and might.  Now 16, Hazel's ready to put aside the silly, childish playacting.  The boy in the woods will likely sleep on for centuries.

Except he doesn't.  He awakens, unleashing an ancient evil on unsuspecting Fairfold.  Drawn into the dangerous conflict between the Alderking's son and the monster who hunts him, Hazel must finally become the knight she's been pretending to be for years.  But, can she understand the clues she's being given?  Can she, a mere human, stop a murderous, bloodthirsty beast?  And how does she know she can trust the horned boy, never mind that she's been in love with him since she was a child?  As Hazel puzzles out the mystery playing out in her town, she must be as brave and daring as any knight—for her life and those of everyone she loves hang in the balance.

Well-known for penning dark, fantastical tales, Holly Black returns to her faerie roots with her newest YA novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest.  The novel is not a Sleeping Beauty retelling, not really, it's more of a twisted fairy tale.  By flipping gender roles around, Black keeps the story fresh.  With intriguing characters, an exciting plot, and moody, atmospheric prose, she makes it memorable.  I loved some aspects of this original novel, others not so much.  Overall, though, The Darkest Part of the Forest is both compelling and enjoyable.  Creepy, but what else would you expect from the likes of Holly Black?

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language (a few F-bombs, plus milder invectives), violence/gore, sexual innuendo, and depictions of underage drinking/illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  

4 comments:

  1. I never know what to think with Holly Black. I didn't like Tithe but the Curse Workers series was all kinds of awesome. This one sounds creepy and interesting but if there's too much romance I'll freak. Is it too romantic?

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    Replies
    1. I've only read DOLL BONES, which I liked. I'm hesitant on her others, although I do plan to read THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. This one has romance, not tons, and what there is is not what you would expect (that's why I called it a twisted fairy tale).

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  2. Great review! I read The Darkest Part of the Forest earlier this year, but I never got around to reviewing it. I had quite mixed feelings about it myself - I couldn't connect with ANY of the characters, but the setting and plot were spectacular. I loved the darkness of the story!
    Beth x

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