Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from 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?

What I Liked:

My first Holly Black novel, a success! I believe I attempted to read Tithe years ago, but didn't like it at all (it was really abstract or something, and also, I don't usually like books with faeries), and didn't finish the book. I've been very meh about reading Black's books, but when I was sent this one for review, I couldn't resist. Honestly, I liked this one a lot more than I thought I would! I mean that in the best possible way.

In the forest of Fairfold, there is a coffin that contains a boy with horns and pointed ears. He has been there, unconscious in the coffin, for as long as anyone can remember. The town is in love with him, or the idea of him. Hazel and her older brother Ben are no exceptions. The children of Fairfold make the horned boy to be a prince, trapped in the coffin. But one day, he wakes. And Hazel realizes that there is something eerie about Fairfold, the Folk, her brother's best friend Jack, the horned boy...

This book is so much more than a mythical-looking boy waking up and escaping from the coffin. Hazel has been dealing with the Folk (basically, faeries) for years, but she hasn't really known. She made a bargain with the Alderking - her brother would get into a music school in Philadelphia, if Hazel gave up seven years of her life. Little does she know that she has been serving the Alderking the entire time, but has not known.

This book is written entirely in third person, but we pretty much get the story from Hazel's (third person) perspective. I don't know if I really connected with her, or would like her in real life, but I understand her. She wants to save the town, hunt down the bad creature (like hags), serve, protect, defend. She kisses a lot of boys, but she doesn't want to be serious with anyone, because she knows that she is messed up with the Folk. 

But she's also in love with one of them - Jack, her brother's best friend, who happens to be one of the Folk. He's a changeling, brought to the human world by his mother, in exchange for a human boy. However, the human boy's mother got her son back, and kept Jack as well. Twisted, no? The story is so much bigger than it appears in the synopsis. 

There is a creature in Fairfold that must be stopped. The waking of the horned boy was no coincidence. Hazel, Ben (her brother), Jack, and the horned boy must stop the creature. A powerful sword, a faerie ritual, a crazed king... there is so much to want to know!

So it's obvious - I really liked the story. At first, things were pretty slow, because Black was setting up the scene. The horned boy doesn't disappear in the first scene. There is a lot of switching back to scenes of the past in this book, but they are marked and very obvious, and don't last long.

I liked Hazel, honestly. My favorite character was probably Jack, and then Severin (the horned boy). Ben was okay, but as a brother, I probably wouldn't have liked him much. He seemed to be a bit pathetic at times. Hazel, on the other hand, was a warrior. Jack was a mysterious yet honest and sexy changeling. Yeah, I liked him a lot!

There is plenty of sweeping romance in this book. If you couldn't tell by now, I really ship Hazel and Jack... I won't say how things end, but it's a pretty fulfilling ending. Fulfilling. It makes sense, and I like it - in terms of the romance, mind you. There are two romance plots in this book. I won't say anything else.

This book is set in a contemporary world - like, it's definitely in modern times. But there is so much fantasy in this book, and it's billed as a fairy tale. I can see that. It definitely has the fairy tale feel to it, even if it is set in contemporary times. Black does an excellent job of constructing the world and putting in place all of the fantasy elements, in a modern world.

The writing is so beautiful! I remember thinking the same about Tithe, but the problem with Tithe (for me) was that I was confused about all the abstractness going on. This book had the same abstract quality to it, but it didn't seem as confusing. Or maybe I was just extremely young when attempting to read Tithe. The book was published in like, 2004? I read it a little after the publication... so I was probably nine or ten. There's the problem. 

Anyway. I really enjoyed this book! I didn't think I would, but here I am, writing a four-star review. Excellent work, Holly Black!

What I Did Not Like:

Hmm... perhaps a little more detail at the ending, when Hazel realized where a certain something was. Not enough attention was put on how exactly she, um, retrieved said item. So I was confused as to how that worked. Also, that no one saw her getting it. 

But that's really specific. Ignore me. Kind of.

Would I Recommend It:

If you like fairy-tale contemporary stories with lush fantasy and sweet romances, then I would recommend this one! I usually don't like books with faeries, but the presence of them wasn't YA-cliche or overwhelming. Their presence seemed like fairy-tale faeries. Which is awesome. Also, the writing is gorgeous in this book. Basically, this book really worked for me.


4 stars. I'm really glad I got this book, and gave it a chance! I might actually got back and try to read her Modern Faerie Tale series. Or maybe the Curse Worker series. All in good time!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. I have been wondering about Holly Black books for a while and I am quite intrigued by this one! Is it a standalone?
    Glad to hear you really liked it Alyssa, I'll be adding it to the wish list for sure now!

    1. I think this is a standalone? I've seen no indication otherwise, and it ended exactly like a standalone should. The epilogue was pretty airtight.

      Thank you, Pili!

  2. I've read two of Black's Curse Worker books; they weren't bad. I haven't been too excited by this one as of yet...and there are two romance plots? As in love triangle or two sets or wha? Wariness. I've also been wondering why they stuck the "Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children" line in the synopsis. I feel like that should play some part in the story, but maybe not based on what you said about the synopsis. Hmm...

    1. Not bad? Two romance plots as in four different people, two different pairs, no overlap. Both are very obvious and there is no love triangle. Don't worry about that!

  3. Lovely review, Alyssa! I've only read Holly Black's short story in the holiday collection from this year, and I didn't really care for it. But I do want to give this one a try - the story sounds really unique and interesting, and you shipping the couple so much makes me happy. :)

    1. Ehh, short stories, meh :D I really liked this one! Like, I might go and re-read it... it was awesome. No love triangle, so don't worry about that!

  4. OMG EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKSSSSS. I'M SO FREAKING EXCITED! I ADORED Coldest Girl in Coldtown and Darkest Part of the Forest just sounds so cool and freaky. :3

    1. I can't wait for you to read this one, Nikki! You will love it :D

  5. YAY! I can't wait to read this one. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

  6. I'm glad you liked it! I've been dying to read it! I read Tithe and although I liked it, I didn't continue the series. I did love Doll Bones, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Coldest Girl in Coldtown, all the fabulous Holly Black :)

    1. AWESOME!! Let me know if you want to borrow the book? I hope you enjoy it when you read it!!

  7. Aw, great review Alyssa :D I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much. <3 I must admit to dying to read this book. Yet I don't think I have read the summary yet, lol, and I won't, not until I get to read this book too :) (will pre-order it. <3) ANYWAY. So happy you loved it. Now I'm more excited about it :) Sounds awesome.

    1. Cool! I really hope you enjoy this one, Carina! You should totally pre-order it!

  8. Ooh this sounds really great!! I won an ARC of this, I think I'll start it soon due to your praise :) The romance sounds cute, and your description of the plot and storyline is much more enticing than the synopsis. Fantastic review!!

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    1. I hope you love it! I wouldn't say the romance is "cute", that's the wrong word for it, but I enjoyed it (the romance) a lot. Thank you so much!


I love comments! I will always try and reply to your comments, as well as leave some comment love on your blog! :)

Also, this an award and tag free blog. While I am flattered that you would think of me, I really do not have the time to follow up. Thank you!