Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: January 13, 2015
I have been eagerly awaiting Holly Black’s return to the world of faerie for years. Her earlier works, like Tithe and Ironside, were 100% formative influences on me as a middle-schooler. So I was PUMPED when this book turned out just how I expected it to – absolutely perfect.
So you can get on my level, here’s a summary from Holly Black’s website:
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?
The greatest thing about this book is that it forcefully pulls you into the world of Fairfold. In this world, magic is seemlessly melded with the modern world – faeries are real, and everyone in town knows it. I could see the town, sense their anticipation, feel their fear. And there was fear! Because like Holly Black’s other books about the fae, these creatures are properly frightening. If you’re expecting Tinkerbell, you’ve got the wrong book. They’re gorgeous and grotesque, powerful, terrifying, and ruthless. And I loved it so much.
The Darkest Part of the Forest also did exactly what I’ve been hoping would happen for years – it completely flips the typical Snow White/Sleeping Beauty fairy tale trope. A human girl is put at the center of the action and forced to save not only her friends and her town but also herself. But she’s not the only star of the story! I was completely in love with all four main characters. And oh god, if the flipped tropes and perfect world-building hadn’t hooked me already, the cast is also diverse, with a wide range of POC and queer characters.
I have zero complaints about this book and I’ve already forced it onto two of my friends and at least four of my students. It’s beautifully written and once you’re pulled into Fairfold, you won’t be able to escape. I desperately want to re-read this again and again, and I know I’ll cherish the reading experience every single time that I do.
If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought! But I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to do anything but adore The Darkest Part of the Forest.
5 out of 5 stars