I’m a huge fan of Holly Black’s urban faerie tales, Tithe and Valiant. So, I was excited to see that her newest book, The Darkest Part of the Forest, was in the same category. I was fully expecting a good book, because Holly Black never fails to entertain, but I have to say it still managed to surprise me by how good it was.
Before I go into that, here is the official synopsis:
In the woods is a glass coffin. It rests on the ground, and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives….
Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side. Tourists drive in to see the lush wonders of Faerie and, most wonderful of all, the horned boy. But visitors fail to see the danger.
Since they were children, Hazel and Ben have been telling each other stories about the boy in the glass coffin, that he is a prince and they are valiant knights, pretending their prince would be different from the other faeries, the ones who made cruel bargains, lurked in the shadows of trees, and doomed tourists. But as Hazel grows up, she puts aside those stories. Hazel knows the horned boy will never wake.
Until one day, he does….
As the world turns upside down, Hazel has to become the knight she once pretended to be. But as she’s swept up in new love, with shifting loyalties and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Loyal readers of Holly Black should expect the same deeply researched and developed faery world of her previous books. She’s done a fantastic job of remaining loyal to original lore. As someone who was slightly obsessed with the fae as a teenager, I can say she doesn’t fail to stick to the traditional “rules” of the faery world, but keeps it interesting by introducing new characters, like Hazel and Ben.
When I started reading this book, the synopsis gave me certain expectations, like Hazel and Ben would be basic human outsiders sucked into a strange plot brought about by an encounter with the horned boy, but Black does a good job of revealing details like one would peeling back the layers of an onion. The reader eventually learns that there is more to both siblings, neither of which have escaped the touches of the faery world growing up.
Black is an edgy Young Adult writer, who often has characters touched by harsh realities and sensitive subjects, and the characters of this book are no different. There are sexual themes (kissing promiscuity and other suggestive behavior), as well as some gruesome deaths (not described in too much detail), so I wouldn’t suggest it for the early Young Adult crowd.
The Darkest Part of the Forest has romance, action, and exciting twists. It had me itching to get home and read, something that hasn’t happened in a while. So, I give it 4 stars and recommend it to readers of Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy.