Thursday, September 3, 2015

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

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Author: Holly Black

Publication date: January 2015

Pages: 324

Everyone in Fairfold knows how strange it is. Hazel and her brother Ben have lived there almost their entire lives, and they know the rules: Never give thanks to a faerie. Never eat their food or drink their drink. Never venture into the forest without a little grave dirt and oatmeal in your pocket. For Hazel and Ben, the magic in Fairfold is almost normal—even the prince who sleeps in the forest, encased in a glass casket that no manmade weapon can break. What secrets Hazel and Ben can’t share with one another they spill over the casket on the deaf ears of their prince, knowing that he can’t hear them…until now. Now the prince has awakened, and all hell has broken loose in Fairfold.

I devoured this book. The characters were incredibly endearing, the love stories were a little unconventional, and the language transitioned back and forth from engaging but normal storytelling to a beautiful, lyrical kind of fairy tale.

That said, there’s something about it that doesn’t sit entirely right with me. I think it’s the pacing of the story that throws me off. I love that this is a story can stand alone. I like that our loose ends get wrapped up and I felt satisfied with the story I read by the end. But sometimes, it feels a little thrown together. It’s clear that the idea came together from a bunch of different threads, but they’re not woven together as tightly as they could be. The villain practically twirls his mustache through most of his dialogue, and the prince is…a little boring, actually? He’s fine, but I could definitely have done with more development on his end. Most of his story is expository.

What the prince lacks in character development, Hazel more than makes up for. I love Hazel. She’s going through trying times, and she’s a tough cookie, but not unbelievably so. I could feel her increasing anxiety as the story unfolded, though even when she blamed herself for things beyond her control, those fears are handled very well. I also love Ben. Though we spend more time with Hazel and her point of view, Ben is still really fun to read about. I wish he’d also had more development than he was given, though. Also, Jack. I could talk about Jack forever. I love him. He’s sweet and funny and a little scary. You can feel how he tries to keep a grasp on his control at all times. Basically, Jack is the best.

All in all, this is one of those books where I loved the concept more than the actual story, though the story is still enjoyable, particularly the interspersed chapters that read more like fables. Most of Holly Black’s books feel like that for me, like the idea is bigger than the actual story that gets written. Or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by other books (looking at you, Raven Boys). I give it a solid B.

Check it out and let me know what you think!


Want to read The Darkest Part of the Forest? Look it up on the CMRLS catalog and put a hold on it!