Fantasy (Teen), Romance (Teen), YA Fiction

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

A YA fantasy story about a town that is right between the cusp of the human world and the fae.

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While waiting for the release of The Cruel Prince sequel, I decided to check out other books by this author and I was happy to see that she had written quite a few standalone novel, which really works well with my reading schedule! I read this book as an audiobook because I’ve been commuting a lot so some of my points are related to that. Here is my review:

The Darkest Part of the Forest book cover book cover

The Darkest Part of the Forest

by Holly Black

Published December 13, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 0316213071

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): 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?

My Review

The Pros: What worked for me

  • I loved the idea of putting a story about the fae in a modern setting. Usually, you only read about characters being transported to the world of the fae or vice versa, so it was refreshing to have this element of magical realism/urban fantasy in the story.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • The story wasn’t really able to keep my attention; it felt a bit bland when compared to the synopsis. There was just some tension missing, some of that darkness that this novel kept promising to deliver.
  • The portrayal of the characters just wasn’t done very well. They lacked personality and I couldn’t feel a connection to them – or between them.
  • There were quite a few instances of romance in the story but it just felt so unnatural and forced; it was more of an insta-love situation than a gradual buildup of emotion. Even the fact that there was an LGBTQ+ presence couldn’t save it.

Maybe it was the poor characterization. Or maybe it was my expectations for a dark and creepy tale. Either way, this novel let me down. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t try other books by Holly Black. I clearly LOVED The Cruel Prince. However, this is one of her earlier books and it may just not have been my cup of tea. I’m giving this story a 2/5 stars, but I am definitely not giving up on this author!

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