Book in Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

9:30 PM

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publishing Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC


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.

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 pointed 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, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough

Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass of coffin. It rested right on the ground and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. 

How can you not love a book with a beginning like that?

I have to admit; I'm always a bit skeptical with reading fantasy/paranormal books, mostly because only few books can actually pull it off without being overly cheesy and unoriginal. But when it comes to Holly Black, I'd gladly devour anything she spews out. The Darkest Part of the Forest is not an exception to that, and when I got an advanced copy, I almost clawed my eyes out in sheer excitement.

And it was that good.

I breezed through this book maybe a little too fast than I should have but I just couldn't wait  to find out the ending. There was just so much mystery and wonder and bloody good fantasy in it and oh my God, this is beyond what I expected it would be!

This is a fantasy novel. This is paranormal. This is YA. The writing is gorgeous, it's so beautiful and fantastic and absolutely riveting. I found myself getting carried away with the vivid and spot-on descriptions and imagery. Everything felt so alive and magical and I couldn't decide if I was floating on air or was melting into the story. The twists and turns of the story will make you hold onto your chair, and to yourself, because believe me, it gets dark, like really really bloody morbidly dark. 

But it works. It's a story about faeries who are not the pretty and sparkly flying things in children's books but the mischievous and evil creatures who like to make fun of gullible people - and in the case of Fairfold, the tourists who foolishly come to town hunting for them. I wasn't too sure about the setting of the story but I took everything at face value. What I do know is, that it's a modern town with magical, but dangerous forests bordering around it, where the fey live. I loved how everything blends together perfectly, and the world building is so wonderful. The book did a great job in putting an age old fairytale into a modern setting. I swear, Holly Black writes even better than me in her sleep.

If the impressive writing is still not reason enough to read this (and why shouldn't it be?!), then you've got to look at that amazing set of characters. The main character Hazel is brilliant. In this fairytale, she is the knight who likes to kill monsters. She spent her childhood dreaming of become a knight, even discovering a sword of her own, instead of wishing to be a princess. She's the one of most badass protagonists I've ever encountered and I rooted for her, like really really hard. Then there's Ben, her older brother, who likes boys and is so good with music, a gift to him from a fey lady when he was a baby. But sometimes, you learn the cold hard truth that gifts can also become curses. We also have a character, Jack, who's from both worlds. He is my favorite in this one; he's a changeling who grew up in the human side of the town, brought up by human parents. And then there's Carter, his human brother. They both play a bit of an important part in the story.

Oh, and of course... how could I forget about the horned boy in the coffin who spent centuries sleeping? I was very excited when he finally woke up, and when he did, it was like the book went into a whole different direction, its atmosphere and tone getting darker and darker every page. But the twist in the end was just perfect, albeit a bit bittersweet. I fould myself yearning for book two, but I guess there's a reason why it's a standalone.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a highly original and compelling story. It has set the bar for fantasy/paranormal books and, for books in general! I don't know if I can look at another book without comparing it to this, because that's just how much this affected me.

Holly Black, you are my hero, if I could have even just a piece of your wonderful brain, I could die happy.

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  1. I've read a wide variety of opinions on this on. Just makes me want to read it! Great review.

  2. That opening does sound pretty awesome. I don't usually read fantasy, but this one sounds really good. If I am going to read something like this, I have to know that it's really really good, and from your review I think it is. Hopefully I'll like it as much as you did :)

  3. This was my first Holly Black book and I loved it! Glad you did as well.

  4. Wow, I am so glad that you loved this one! It sounds fantastic and I did love Holly Black's older novels so I'm giving this one a go for sure.

    Nice review, Kimi <33

  5. YOU LOVED IT A LOT?? I'm going to push through. I'm slumping right now but it's almost the time of the week for my slump to be over (yup, slumps are for tuesday-sat LOL) so I'm definitely going to concentrate more on this one. A morbidly dark book? THAT IS SO FOR ME. I'm so glad that you loved this one, Kimi! Brilliant review! <3

  6. That's what I'm always anxious about going into a Fantasy, it always takes me longer to actually get into it, but got into this one from the start and loved it, and considering it is my first Holly Black book, I'm so impressed. Part of that I think is because of the writing, like you said, it's beautiful, and the flow's important with Fantasy, and yup, Holly Black nailed it. Definitely checking out her others, been looking at the Curse Workers for a while, so it's given me that push. Loved that it was diverse too (and not stereotypically diverse either). Just loved it! :D


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2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Kimi has read 3 books toward her goal of 100 books.