The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

February 10, 2015 Review 48 ★★★★★

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Little Brown
Source: Purchased
Pages: 336
Release Date: January 13th 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Family, Fantasy & Magic, General, LGBT, Love & Romance, Siblings, Young Adult
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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?
rachel

I was really excited for this book, and it definitely did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations, which is saying something considering the very high standards I have for Holly Black’s books. So this review should really be called, “how many different words can Rachel think of that mean amazing?” I daresay a lot, and yes, I am going to use all of them.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is told in third person and mainly follows Hazel, a high school girl who lives at the edge of a magical wood. Hazel is a realistic, likable character– she is brave, loyal, and occasionally doesn’t think things through as much as she should. Her brother, Ben, is also a very realistic and fascinating character and was definitely my favorite character to read about (this may or may not be mainly because of the LGBT representation, which Black is great at by the way). Ben was given the ability to play Faerie music as a baby, and it is interesting to watch how his “gift” becomes the conflict around which every decision made in his family revolves, and the way he deals with it. There are also some fairly central secondary characters, who are also all excellently written but I will spare you my overzealous descriptions of how awesome they all are and move on to plot.

Unlike some of Black’s other Faerie books, the plot of Darkest Part of the Forest was equally as captivating as the characters and had twists and everything. There was a moment when I thought there was going to be a huge plot hole, but it worked itself out and everything was fine (phew!). There were also lots of flashbacks, which I personally love, though I know they annoy some other people.

I don’t usually care very much about the romance in books, especially when love triangles are insinuated (this book had a close miss with one, but it sort of helped us understand Hazel and Ben’s relationship better, so it was actually good) but I thought that all of the relationships, both romantic and otherwise, were done very well and actually hooked my emotions, which is a rare but lovely thing.

*persuasive author pimping voice* Basically just read this because it is my favorite Holly Black book that I have read to date, and Holly Black is amazing and writes amazing books. Alright, I think I have made my point; so I’m out. *end persuasive author pimping voice*

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Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Romance
Overall: 4.9

48 Responses to “The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black”

    • Rachel

      I love fairytales too, and while I enjoy reading retellings, I like how Holly Black takes all of the fairy tale tropes and elements and stuff and mashes it up to make her own new fairy tale thingy. Have fun reading!

    • Rachel

      She does indeed have a cool storytelling style, as well as just all around awesome writing and content. With the exception of the vampire book (I know some people like it, but let’s just ignore that one, okay?) , I have only good things to say about her work.

        • Rachel

          I mean, I’m just not a fan of vampires. I’m not saying there is anything actually inherently wrong with that one, it is just not my thing and it’s also not the usual content of Holly Black’s books.

          So if you ask me, her Faerie books are way better. But that might just be because I like Faeries.

    • Rachel

      Oh, yes. I saw the book trailer before the book was released. Then I possibly might have run around the internet and told everyone I know, book lovers or not, that they had to watch it.

      Yeah, it’s really a great premise in that there in nothing that original in all of the little fairy-tale-like parts of it, but then when you put it all together it becomes something different and awesome.

    • Rachel

      Definitely start with this book if you have never read anything by Holly Black before, a) because it is a standalone so there is no commitment, and b) because it is so good that a) is completely irrelevant anyways.

    • Rachel

      I think that a lot of people try to write books about Fae, and some are amazing, some are decent, and some are absolutely terrible and have no aspect of originality. Darkest Part of the Forest definitely falls into the first category. Glorified LOTR fan fiction, on the other hand, usually falls into the last category.

  1. Kezia

    YESSS! So glad you loved it, Rachel! Holly Black is one of my favorite authors I gotta pick this up soon ^^ I didn’t know that there’s an LGBT element in this book I wonder how Black is gonna pull that off :)
    Kezia recently posted…My fanfiction addiction

    • Rachel

      All of Black’s YAs that I have read so far (I haven’t read the White Cat books yet) have a secondary character who identifies as LGBT, which I know is an important thing to see in Ya fantasy for myself and many others. Sometimes that character is more secondary than other times; this book had a gay character that had some POV chapters and was the second most important character. So that was really nice. Not many YA fantasy authors include diversity in their work.

    • Rachel

      Which series? The Spiderwick Chronicles was turned into a movie about five years ago, but the general consensus is that it is pretty terrible. Having seen the movie, I agree with said consensus, in case you were wondering.

    • Rachel

      I have taken the responsibility of creating a things to do list for you and others who have not read this book:
      1. Aquire a copy of Darkest Part of the Forest
      2. do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars
      3. read it
      4. rave about it on the internet
      your welcome :)

  2. Eugenia @ Genie In A Book

    I have a copy of this myself and can’t wait to finally get to reading it (it’s underneath a few others on my TBR but now it’s definitely heading up the list!) I love realistic characters with depth and I’ve heard lots of great things about Holly Black already so this sounds very promising. Thanks for the lovely review Rachel :)
    Eugenia @ Genie In A Book recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Vanishing Girls

    • Rachel

      I made you a to do list as well because I am having way to much fun with this.
      1. Watch the book trailer
      2. move the book to the top of your TBR because the book trailer is so incredibly creepy
      3. read the book
      4. rave about it on the internet
      See, my to do lists all end the same way.

  3. Nara

    The writing in this book was just freaking awesome. Reminded me a lot of Maggie Stiefvater’s in how magical it was.

    And yes the characters and romances! So amazing! I think my favourite relationship in the book, though, was between Hazel and Ben. Such a realistic sibling relationship!
    Nara recently posted…Review: There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

    • Rachel

      Yeah, in terms of the writing itself, Maggie Stiefvater and Holly black are WAY up there.They break the rating system.
      I thought that the relationship between Hazel and Ben was very interesting as well, especially the whole competitive aspect.

  4. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    I have an ARC of this one that I have yet to read but after reading your review here I know one thing: I MUST get to it soon! You reminded me why I was sooo excited about it in the first place: the fae, amazing sounding characters, magical gifts and a story that packs and emotional punch. An LGBT element to it is the icing on the cake :) Fab review Rachel ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday *109*

    • Rachel

      Have you seen the book trailer? If you haven’t watch it and you will be instantly convinced to read that ARC right now. You sound like you already understand how exciting this book is though; you summed it up perfectly.

    • Rachel

      Watch the book trailer! If my lovely review hasn’t already convinced you to go acquire a copy, then it certainly will.

    • Rachel

      Yes, yes you do need to try one. If you are interested, I made a to do list for people who haven’t read it yet. Here you go.
      1. Watch the book trailer which is incredibly creepy and amazing
      2. Aquire a copy of Darkest Part of the Forest
      3. do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars
      4. read it
      5. rave about it on the internet
      Your welcome! :)

  5. Kirsty-Marie

    YES! This was my first Holly Black (yeah, I don’t know why I haven’t read one of hers sooner) but oh my god I loved it. I’m not too much a fan of Fae stories, but adored it, and weirdly, it didn’t really feel like one, does that make sense? I usually find them boring, but The Darkest Part of the Forest was just so magical and enchanting. I’m definitely checking out her others now. :D
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Unspeakable

    • Rachel

      I don’t particularly like high fantasy Fae stories (though I do like Throne of Glass and that is sort of one) but I do like the urban fantasy ones quite a bit. Is that possibly what you mean? Anyways, glad you enjoyed it and have fun with her other books!

    • Rachel

      Yes, those were my thoughts exactly, except admittedly mine weren’t in caps lock with a zillion exclamation points. Holly Black sort of has all of the skills needed to write a super amazing book, but sometimes she hits upon a better plot that others. This was one of the better ones, and I think the Modern Faerie Tales ones were some of her more boring plots. If I remember correctly, Spiderwick Chronicles also has a really good plot, but I read those when I was eight or something, so it is hard to remember. (That’s her middle grade Faerie series)

    • Rachel

      I think that if you like realistic characters with interesting motives, you will enjoy this book, magical or not. It’s about 80% character development and 20% magic/ action stuff, so enough magic for fast pacing, ( the first half doesn’t have the best pacing, but its pretty good) but not so much as to be painful or take away from character stuff. Basically, it’s urban fantasy, not high fantasy.

      (Yes, in case you are wondering, I am using the persuasive author pimping voice)

  6. Anya

    Yey, I loved this one too! I might have had to check under my bed for monsters after reading some scenes, but it was worth it ;-). Ben might be my favorite for similar reasons, haha, it is just so nice to see gay characters represented realistically in speculative fiction and I love Black so much for doing it and not caring what people think about it!
    Anya recently posted…Does that add to the community you are trying to make?

    • Rachel

      *virtual high five* Glad you liked it! Yeah, I feel like I am talking about the whole LGBT representation in speculative fiction thing a lot recently (which is kind of weird because I really don’t consider that a very big part of my life), so I’m glad pointing it out doesn’t just make people roll their eyes and get bored.

    • Rachel

      Have you read any Holly Black books in the past? If you are interested, I made a to do list for people who haven’t read it yet because I like forcefully pushing my book recommendations on people. Here you go.
      1. Watch the book trailer which is incredibly creepy and amazing
      2. Aquire a copy of Darkest Part of the Forest
      3. do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars
      4. read it
      5. rave about it on the internet
      Your welcome! :)

    • Rachel

      Glad you liked it! While I totally agree with you that everything she writes is amazing and has incredible characters, I think this one was my favorite because it had a really good plot line too. Often they have a meh plot line. But I still have to read the White Cat series, so the jury is still out.

    • Rachel

      Wow, you can do college projects on fairy tales? That sounds awesome. You should check out the book trailer; it is even creepier.

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