BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Part of the Forest

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

The Darkest Part of the ForestHazel 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?

  • author: Holly Black
  • year of publication: 2015
  • page count: 336
  • genre: young adult, fantasy

I did not expect to like this as much as I did, mainly because I had mixed feelings about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Now, I figured that was probably just because The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a vampire story and, even though I do enjoy reading vampire stories, three stars tends to be my maximum rating. However, since I did like her writing style and have heard countless positive reviews of her books, I figured I should give her another shot. Since I didn’t want to commit to buying a book that I wasn’t sure I would keep, I had to go with what my local library had available, which was this beaut.

Since so many books are written in first person nowadays, especially in the young adult genre, it was refreshing to read something written in third. Needless to say, I was already preparing myself to love the book because of that difference, but Black still pleasantly surprised me. The creep factor was real, and, while it wasn’t outright scary, I definitely got chills a couple times.

I actually liked all of the major characters, especially Jack. The fairy tales established in this book sucked me in immediately, and watching Jack try to find a balance between his fae origin and human nurturing was heart-wrenching. This “finding oneself” theme is extremely common in young adult literature, but Black wrote it well and kept me interested.

Also, can we just talk for a second about how I’m such a fan of the “girl who becomes a knight” trope because I am a   h u g e   fan and have been ever since I was a little girl. As soon as Black introduced Hazel as a knight, I was like, well, this is it, I’m sold. That being said, I think I loved her brother and his ability just as much as I loved hers.

Speaking of loving things, both of the romances were fun, albeit completely predictable, though I wish Ben’s romance arc had been a bit more exciting. I had been rooting for them since the beginning, and they unfortunately fell a bit flat for me.

Another thing I feel that I should mention is that this is a standalone. Yeah, you heard me right. It’s a standalone. There aren’t that many young adult fantasy standalones out there, and even less that are as satisfying as this. I mean, I even went through a short grieving period after this book was over because it was, well, over. But it being over just means that I can go try out more of Holly Black’s books.

rating: ★★★★☆
buy the book
: amazon | book depository | books-a-million
Holly Black: website | goodreads


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