I bought this book for my Kindle years ago when it first came out, and I kept putting off reading it (no idea why, honestly). I guess I was never really in the mood for a story of this sort until now – I’ve read other books that involve the fae before, and while I didn’t exactly dislike them, I didn’t really fall in love with them, either.
Such is the case with The Darkest Part of the Forest.
Now let me start by saying that I did find this book interesting, and beautifully written. Holly Black clearly has a wonderful talent for writing – the way she describes her settings, characters, and the plots are so amazingly well done. However, this is one of those books that I felt may have had too much emphasis on setting and lyrical writing that is out of this world lovely. Because when it comes down to it, I kind of got lost quite a few times, and felt that there was way too much energy put into making the writing sound beautiful and not actually describing the characters more.
Now, this is the first book I have ever read by Holly Black. I really did like her style of writing, but for some reason, this book just didn’t really speak to me as something I absolutely would NEED to read again, it also wasn’t something that I felt the need to give up on halfway through, either.
So why did I rate it four stars?
I rated The Darkest Part of the Forest four stars because of how well written it was, how well thought out the plot was, how detailed the characters and settings were – it was just a beautiful book overall. I wasn’t bored even for a single second – it was quite fast-paced all the way through.
“There’s a monster in our wood
She’ll get you if you’re not good
Drag you under leaves and sticks
Punish you for all your tricks
A nest of hair and gnawed bone
You are never, ever coming -“
Hazel and her brother, Ben, have lived in Fairfold for most of their lives. They understand the relationship between the citizens and the fae, as well as how the fae felt about tourists. They always took precautions to keep to themselves and not mingle with the fae – or at least they tried.
Hazel and Ben have also been known to hunt dangerous creatures – monsters – in their town. This started when the two of them were young children. Hazel always wanted to be a knight, and she felt that she was cut out to be one – but she also needed Ben’s musical gift to go along with it in order to properly hunt the monsters.
“That was why Fairfold was special, because it was so close to magic. Dangerous magic, yes, but magic all the same.”
Hazel and Ben both have a history with the fae. Each of their histories with them plays a critical part to the story, and it is vital to pay attention to every detail so that you don’t get lost later on.
When a glass coffin containing a horned boy, whom Hazel and Ben have dubbed their prince, is broken, setting the boy free, the town is in an uproar. No one has been able to wake up the boy for many, many years – nor has anyone been able to break the glass. But it has happened, and he is wandering around Fairfold now.
That’s not the only strange thing going on in Fairfold, either – Hazel has a late night encounter that she can’t quite explain, and there is a horrible monster in the town that is attacking adults and teenagers alike. Hazel and Ben are struggling to come to terms with what is going on, and they both insist that they can figure out the mystery and help the town.
“Ben told stories. Hazel became those stories.”
But Hazel has her own problems going on – from falling in love with a Changling boy in town to trying to uncover the mystery of what is going on with her and what ties she has to the Alderking. In order for Hazel to help Ben uncover what is going on around them, she must first figure out who she really is, and what is going on with her when the moon is in the sky.
The Darkest Part of the Forest didn’t have a single dull moment in it. There was just so much going on all the time. And that’s what part of the problem of the book was for me, I think. There was no way I could slow down and catch my breath, no way for me to really keep track of what was going on without going back and re-reading several sections. I had a really difficult time keeping up with it.
This isn’t really the author’s fault, though – I don’t exactly read a lot of book that deal with the fae, only a few here and there. However, I feel it is kind of important to note that The Darkest Part of the Forest doesn’t really give an introduction to the fae or anything – it feels as though the author already assumes the reader is going to know quite a bit about them before they start reading. So maybe that is my own fault in the end?
Anyway, The Darkest Part of the Forest has a really great mystery going on, and it takes pretty much the entire length of the book to solve. I found myself wondering what the heck was supposed to be going on more than once – and it wasn’t until the end that I realized that I wasn’t supposed to know. It wasn’t that I was missing anything exactly, it was that the mysterious elements that the author included in the book were all to keep the reader guessing until the very end when everything is revealed.
I liked that.
It kept my on my toes, so to speak.
While this wasn’t my favorite book of all time, let me say that I did enjoy it. It was something different, something that I wouldn’t normally read because it wasn’t a topic that I tend to go for. But it did introduce me to an author who is new to me, and it made me want to pick up more of her books, so I have to say it was definitely one that I would recommend, especially if you are fond of books that have a lot to do with interactions and relationships between humans and the fae.