Book: The Darkest Part of the Forest – Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Supernatural
Description from Amazon:
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 pointy 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 and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
In a town where the fairy world is never far away, life seems to be very interesting. My favorite thing about the book is that Holly Black was able to so completely entwine the worlds together. Usually, when I read these types of books, there’s at least one point story where I go “well THAT was over the top”, but even during the most monstrous attacks in this book, everything just seemed so plausible.
Perhaps the story was so believable because of the characters in the book. I thought they were all fairly well developed and seemed very realistic for their age level (high-school). They spoke and acted just like normal kids would, and reacted to the events as if they were a problem, but a problem they lived their whole lives expecting to happen, which lent credibility to even the most audacious bits of the storyline. (I also thought all of the characters were likable, which doesn’t happen all that often in YA books, so I was very happy about that.)
Part of the believability must also have come from how well the author understood the world she had created. Black describes everything in detail, from the beings themselves to their woods to their habits. She knows the world so well that she is able to explain everything that is happening in a way that makes you believe that there’s no reason it shouldn’t be happening. But she also knows her audience and doesn’t go into SO much detail that the reader gets bored.
Aside from not having to worry about suspension of disbelief, I also liked the story itself. It was a nice story with some interesting plot twists. And you actually worried about whether the characters would survive. A lot of YA books in this genre try to give their characters a super-power or some secret knowledge that you know will save them in the long run. This one didn’t really do that, at least, not overtly (I will admit, there is at least one super-power, but it doesn’t initially come off as really useful, lol). In this story, you actually cared about the characters and were concerned they might not make it to the end of the book.
It also helped that you weren’t inundated with the characters’ backstories upfront. As the book went along, relevant events in their past popped up and made you understand their reactions to what was happening in the story. This did cause some confusion in the beginning, but I think overall it was a good strategy, since trying to force all the background into the beginning of the book probably would have lost the readers’ interest.
So without giving any of the plot away, I will just say that I really enjoyed this book. There was an air of suspense and mystery through-out the entire story and plenty of action to keep you interested. If you enjoy YA and the fairy realm, you will enjoy this book. 🙂
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