Part fairy tale, part epic adventure, author Holly Black is heading back to her roots in THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST, an engrossing dive into a land where myth and the mundane seamlessly mix.
If you’re looking to start off 2015 with a fun, charming adventure, look no further than Holly Black’s latest Young Adult novel, THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST!
In Fairfold, people know there’s some truth to the legends that bring tourists down to their small town. Their forest truly is enchanted with the faerie, clever tricksters who can wreak havoc on human lives. The residents have a cautiously optimistic co-existence with them, but that doesn’t mean the occasional foolish tourist doesn’t fall victim to their traps.
The main attraction drawing in the tourists is a beautiful, sleeping young man with horns encased in a glass coffin in the middle of the forest. Nobody in Fairfold knows his origins, but our protagonist, Hazel Evans, and her brother Ben have been obsessed with the the figure since they were children. They’ve created their own stories and fictional connections to their “prince”, weaving their own fairy tales about his life and captivity.
In their youth, Hazel and Ben had a precarious relationship with the faerie world. As teenagers, their connections have whittled down to parties in the forest around the boy in the glass case and Ben’s best friend, a changeling raised by the humans named Jack– until the day that the the glass coffin in the woods is shattered to bits and the boy inside goes missing. Even worse, Hazel thinks the young faerie prince may be trying to involve her in his dangerous schemes.
Desperate to solve the mystery behind the sleeping boy’s awakening and the hideous creature that’s been threatening Fairfold ever since, Hazel and Ben dive headfirst into the world of faerie and find themselves entirely entangled in the fate of the town.
Very rarely to fans get a world as succinctly set-up as THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST. Though there are myths and mysteries abound, Holly Black’s whimsical writing makes it easy to believe that these things simply are. The faerie and the folks of Fairfold have always maintained this careful relationship. The teenagers of Fairfold really do sip from red solo cups around the fabled body in a glass enclosure. A girl with a few tricks up her sleeve could be the secret to saving a small town. It’s all told so cleverly and factually that it’s easy to believe!
Black also did an excellent job developing her characters. No one is left without a background story and each of those stories is carefully woven into the present, creating the perfect storm of what has been, what is, and what’s to come.
The only big issue with the story is a bit of predictability. It’s certainly not entirely predictable, but there are certain “twists” or plot points that we pretty easy to guess. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment too much, as there were still a few good surprises in there. After all, everyone has their secrets!
While full of adventure, THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST is quite low on the sexualized romance scale and only slightly higher on the gruesome violence scale, making it a perfect read for Young Adult fans on the younger side of the (very wide) age scale. It’ll be easy for any YA fan to get caught up in the magic and marvel of this book!
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST hits shelves on January 13, 2015. You can pre-order it now!