The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black has the atmosphere of a dark fairy tale. Like the real fairy tales that weren’t about happily ever but about warning children to behave or else. This 2015 release has a grim and whimsical feel to it and I love the town’s character more than anything in this book.
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?
Holly Black’s writing is like a dark whisper. The setting she’s created is oddly magical and fascinating and I feel (and fear) that I’d be one of the tourists she describes who are both scared and not scared enough. The lore and fae events that have occurred in this town are just captivating, and I feel like she could write a whole set of novellas just based on those.
But The Darkest Part of the Forest as a whole is interesting. Things are only just starting to pick up where the sampler ends, so the first few chapters are more of a background information filler, setting up a few things (I suspect) for later on. The main character, Hazel seems to be a mix of good intentions and bad (or questionable, at least) actions. There’s a white knight desire blazing inside of her, which she can’t quite seem to fulfill in her later teenage years. Ben seems a little blind, rosy-eyed, but just as well-meaning as his sister. I’m most curious about Jack, because we get a glimpse at him and it’s not at all how he was portrayed before, and I have an inkling that it’s going to grow and grow as the novel progresses.
And then, of course, there’s the horned boy in the glass coffin. I’ve got all kinds of questions about him.
The Darkest Part of the Forest is an early release (yay!), out in January of 2015.
Download the first seven chapters on Amazon, here.