Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: Review


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?


"Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?"

This is a book where folk tales become reality. Set in a place where people still believes in - and still sees the faeries, it's a beautiful and terrifying story. While it might sometimes be confusing, this standalone is certainly a thrilling ride.

Children love fairy tales. They always dream of as characters in a folk tale. It is adorable and cruel at the same time. Their decisions can be the brightest light or the darkest damnation. I love these kind of things, where an action can both be good and bad at the very same time. Holly Black has taken that one step further by adding irreversible consequences and dire threats. The book is way more inspiring after this transformation. It's also very clever to include this element in a story where faeries exist - because faeries are both good and bad, both fair and deceptive. In folk tales, humans and faeries have very different perspective of fairness, emotions and righteousness. The difficulty to judge whether one's action is correct or not is one of the best parts of the story. Things get dull when everything is absolute.

I appreciate the fact that it's a standalone - sometimes dragging things out just isn't good. However, I have to say this book is really short. It's an enjoyable read and I want more. But more than that, I think this book is actually too short for any complex character development. Severin is the boy inside the glass coffin. Holly Black has put a lot of effort building up the atmosphere of mystery. But he reveals his intentions so soon that it's sucked out some fun. I don't think this book should be a series. A standalone is good enough. I just wish the book would be longer. I want more character complexity.

This is my first experience with Holly's book. I must say it's a fair one. The book has satisfied my fascination for faeries (they are an interesting bunch, after all). I'm not sure if I will read more of her books in the foreseeable future. But I've heard that The Curse Workers are really awesome. I might just have to check that out.

Rating: 7.5/10

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