Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Review by: Tessa
Fairfold has never been a normal town. Tourists flock from all over the country to experience the magic themselves. They come to marvel at the faerie circles and gawk at the horned boy sleeping in his glass casket on display in the woods. Some of them leave feeling inspired, but others never leave at all. Of course, in a place where faeries and humans live side by side, there are going to be some "accidents."
But to Hazel and Ben, Fairfold is their home. Their childhood was spent running barefoot through the enchanted forest, dancing in the woods, and telling stories to their horned prince while he slumbers in his casket.
They have gotten used to how the faeries act. They know exactly how to avoid them and their magic. Until the faeries do not act like they are supposed to anymore.
The faeries are getting more and more clever, which is never a good thing. Then the horned boy wakes up...
I have been a huge fan of Holly Black ever since I read The Spiderwick Chronicles in elementary school. I have read most of her books and loved all of them, including The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and the Curseworkers series. Her writing started my fascination with real faeries (I am not talking about "fairies", which are the stereotypical kind that fly around granting everyone wishes and doing spontaneous favors all for the common good. I am positive that those kind do not actually exist). She writes about the kind of faeries who are selfish, dangerous, and thoroughly mischievous. They are unpredictable; going from murderous and chaotic to charitable and curious depending on the time of day. If faeries were actually real (and I am not ready to reject that theory yet) then they would be exactly like Holly Black describes them.
The characters are as real as the faeries. Hazel is brave and selfless on the surface, but insecure and anxious. She is equal parts sassy, fragile, and dangerous.
Ben, her sibling counterpart, was her opposite. He is shy, quiet, and not at all sure of himself. At first glance, he seems like the weak, kid brother of the story. But, then it is revealed how much junk he had to put up with during his life and how strong he had to be to get through it all.
The characters' backstories were also amazing. There is a lot more than anyone would think about all of the characters, main and secondary. Everyone had a story and a role in the book.
Jack, Ben's best friend, also has a pretty cool backstory. He is basically the one who got away from the faeries and ended up living with the humans of Fairfold. He added a dynamic perspective to the story which shed light unto the darker parts of the tale.
I really loved the how the suspense and mystery slowly built during the story. I did not even realize that their was a mystery to be solved until a quarter of the way into the book. I loved that the mystery crept up on me. Tidbits of information were released slowly, but just often enough to keep me informed and interested.
The only downside is that there was a lot of information being thrown at the reader. The constant stream of new concepts being introduced bordered on information overload. All of the backstories, conspiracies, and folklore in the book became a little bit jumbled in my head due to the overload.
Also, at times, the story seemed a little bit rushed. This was a lot of world-building and character development to fit into one book.
On the bright side, the romance was very unique. I really had no idea who the love interest was going to be until the second half of the book. It was one of the weirdest love polygons that I have ever encountered. I really did not mind it because it stayed away from annoying cliches that make me hate love geometry.
I am completely satisfied with the ending, which is really rare for a standalone novel. Almost everything wrapped up nicely, but there was still a little bit of wriggle room for the imagination to roam.
Overall, The Darkest Part of the Forest is a unique and undeniably real story about faeries and the people who live with them. Everything about this book is magical, from the characters and their powerful backstories to the complicated romance.
I would recommend it to any fans of Holly Black's other works. The Darkest Part of the Forest is as good as, if not better, than her other stories and I was not disappointed. I would also urge fantasy fans and anyone who is interested in faeries (or even traditional fairies) to read this book. It will open your mind to another kind of magic, which is not all rainbows and butterflies.
I give The Darkest Part of the Forest 4 stars.