The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black

As today's review is of a book coming out in 2015, I have asked a fantastic friend of mine to write his own review. So without further ado, here's Dylan Schroeder's write-up of Holly Black's upcoming novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest!

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.

The Darkest Part of the Forest marks Holly Black’s return to the faerie genre and you can rest easy knowing that it is a triumphant one. I’ve been a big fan of Holly Black for a long time now, I’ve read all of her YA novels and I have to say that this is probably my personal favourite.

It’s the story of twins Hazel and Ben, who live in the little town of Fairfold, which happens to be nestled right next to a forest filled with faeries. The people of the town treat this fact as a sort of character building quirk, and if tourists come to visit and get themselves into trouble well, that’s nobody’s fault but their own. There is a faerie prince in a glass case and Hazel and Ben are both in love with him. He’s gorgeous and always readily available to listen to their problems. The plot is fairly straightforward and (thankfully) contained to one stand-alone novel. The prince wakes up, and all hell breaks loose.

Black does admirable work with the tone and setting in this story and her prose is as gorgeous as ever. You can quickly get a feel for exactly what kind of small town this is, and she brings the fantastical element into the fold very smoothly. Not a lot happens in the novel, if you’re looking for an action packed thrill ride this probably isn’t for you, but the characters are all so wonderful and the mood is so ambient that you’ll be drawn in the entire time.

This is the second book I’ve read this month with a gay male artistic twin and an adventurous wild child female twin--I’m looking at you I’ll Give You the Sun. Hazel is tough, she’s always wanted to be a knight, and she is known as a bit of a black widow--she kisses boys to pass the time, and doesn’t really care about any broken hearts along the way. Ben is sensitive, he’s an artist who has given up his music, because of a heartbreak in the past. You’ll feel deeply for both of them and Ben and Hazel are loveable yes, but can also be quite frustrating and when they withhold the truth from each other you’ll want to grab them both and give them a good shake. Both of them get a solid romance--one queer, the other interracial (can I get a hell yes!), but Hazel’s definitely gets more room to breathe than Ben’s does. This easy diversity has always come so naturally to Holly Black, nobody makes a fuss about Ben being gay or the fact that Hazel’s love interest, Jack, is black. The fact that Jack is a changeling, however, is a much more substantial complication.

I tore through this book, I think I read it in two days, and I’m eager to read it again. It’s a rich character study, a story about art, and sacrifice and the cost of telling the truth. If you’re looking to be swept away by the faeries, you needn’t look any further.

(NOTE: This review is not written or corroborated by me and contains only the opinions of the guest reviewer.)


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