Rating: 5 OWLS
The Darkest Part of the Forest was amazing. I previously read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and was blown away by Holly Black’s writing style. Having read both of these books, I now see a pattern. Not only does she write beautifully, but she has the ability to draw the reader into the world she creates. Her stories have a dark and twisted element that I must admit I love. I never thought I would be interested in reading a book about fae, but Black’s story had me hooked from the first blurb released for this book.
Black’s fae are beautifully written. She sometimes uses antonyms to describe them, and while that could be confusing, it actually works at providing a full picture. The fae are described to be beautiful, and creepy looking; they cannot lie but they have a way with words, playing a double meaning word game, and they are very cunning; they are peaceful but can be dangerous.
The story focuses on Hazel and her brother Ben, who live in Fairfold, a small strange town where fae and humans live alongside one another. The fae attract tourism, so the town people of Fairfold for the most part are not weary of the fae. However, perhaps they should be…
Hazel and Ben have lived in Fairfold for most of their lives. The small town of Fairfold is tucked away in a forest, which also holds a glass coffin. In the casket sleeps a horned boy, who Hazel and Ben have been in love with since early childhood. They both are very protective of the horned boy and they both like to share their stories with him. For many generations the boy has been a fixture of the forest in the little town of Fairfold. Until one day the coffin is empty. Nobody knows who opened the coffin, how they managed to do it, or where the horned boy is. Early in the book we are also introduced to Ben’s best friend, Jack, who is a changeling, but has been raised by a human family.
As the story develops, the town becomes more and more terrified of the faeries, friendships are tested, the bond between Hazel and Ben is tested as more and more secrets they hold come into light, and the peaceful relationship between the fae and humans becomes more strained.
Black’s characters are all flawed and broken in some ways which makes them easier to relate to. She does not shy away from equally highlighting their strengths and their weaknesses. All the characters she focused on are very well developed, making it impossible to pick favorites.
The story is filled with secrets, love, power, magic, and adventure. The underlying question at the core of the book is ‘what sacrifices are you willing to make for those you find worthy’? My only complaint about this book was the length. I did not want it to end as soon as it did; however, the book did offer a very satisfying ending. I found this book to be much darker than your typical young-adult novels, but it is something I came to expect from Holly Black. The combination of modern day with fairy folklore is absolutely fascinating. This is without a doubt one my favorite reads.