Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Format: Hardcover, 328 pages
Pub. Date: February 5th 2015
Source: Xpresso Reads

Book Description:

Tell the truth. Or face the consequences.

Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He's the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him - but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for...



My girlfriend picked this book for me to read. I warned her that I have never read a fairy book that I loved. I was hopeful that this would be the one that broke my streak... But unfortunately, it follows the same pattern. That's not to say this book was bad. It wasn't. But when I closed the book, having finished it, the only thought I had was, "huh." And then I reshelved it and picked up something else to read almost immediately. It's maybe worth nothing (since I know she's a bestseller and lots of folks love her) I had never read a Holly Black book prior to this one.

Conceptually, I absolutely adored this book. The idea of the horned boy in the coffin in the forest is captivating. I love the idea of a contemporary town where weird things happen and everyone in town knows that "ah yes, must be the forest folk." I loved the idea of a strong female character, a knight no less! I appreciated that so much of the book focused on the sibling pair of Hazel and Ben, and I appreciated the LGBT representation of Ben falling in love with Severin.

I also love the cover, though I know that has nothing to do with the story. And, I'll admit, after doing some Googling this book has some absolutely gorgeous fan art that I love.

So much of the writing was well done. Descriptive, flowery, detailed. Things that I look for in a fantasy novel.

But.... I was so bored through so much of it. And it hurts me to say that, because I wanted to love this book. Hazel was pretty unlikable to me. She was forever kissing people for no real plot. I felt like the kid in Princess Bride. She was very tell and not show. She didn't do anything that angered me and I don't think she's the worst. I just didn't find her particularly interesting- and that's saying something when she's living a double life as an Elfen knight!

It felt sort of fragmented. Not hard to follow, but more patched together in an odd way. It's mostly Hazel's perspective, but every once in a while another character gets a chapter, but with no regularity or pattern. They mention how their parents are artists, and how they weren't super great at being parents. But then there's a mention that they were downright neglectful, and there's no real expansion or closure about it. Thing just sort of get mentioned now and then when convenient.

The bad guy comes off almost as a cartoon villain. The sort of bad guy who announces his betrayals and master plans and then is shocked (insert Pikachu face) when the plan is thwarted. Don't worry though, Mystery Inc gets to the baddie before too much damage is done. Then there's the name.... The monster that is sad is named Sorrow. The name of one of the bad guy's assistants is Grim.

There was so much potential in this book, and there were plenty things about it that I liked... Ultimately, it just wasn't for me. If you're a fan of Holly Black's, of fairy related stories, or strong female leads. This may be a book that you enjoy more than I did- it seems that plenty of other people absolutely adored it. I hope that's the case for you too.


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