Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Darkest Part Of The Forest by Holly Black

Publisher: Orion
Format: ARC
Published5th February 2015
Number of Pages: 272
Book: ARC*
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Faerie Tale, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Swearing, Alcohol References
Author's Site: Holly Black

Faeries.  Knights.  Princes.  True love. 
Think you know how the story goes? 
Think again…

Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, is a glass casket.  Inside 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…

“Hazel had seen a surfeit of faeries awfulness, but she was still lured by stories of its beauty and wonder.  She'd hunted them and feared them, but, like the rest of Fairfold, she loved them, too...”
In the town of Fairfold, humans live alongside the fae.  The fae pray on naive tourists, but those who live in Fairfold know the real danger of the faeries' magic.
Hazel and her brother Ben were born in Fairfold to forgetful artists.  As children, their imaginations reigned supreme – they went on quests, fought monsters and even killed fae.  But what they did most of all was dream about the horned boy with pointy ears in the glass coffin.
The boy has been there for as long as anyone can remember, sleeping, never waking.  Hazel and Ben used to dream about him – about rescuing him, about him falling in love with one of them, about how he is a prince and that one day he will wake up.
But then he does.  He disappears from the coffin.  And everything changes.
A monster stalks the town.  Wishes turn deadly.  Panic spreads.  
And the Alderking hunts for the horned boy - for the one who broke the curse...
I have been so excited for The Darkest Part Of The Forest – like, ridiculously excited.  So excited that I was terrified even the amazing Holly Black wouldn't be able to live up to my hopes.  Oh, how foolish I was to worry!  Holly, as always, blew me away.  She delivered a faerie story with a difference, something dark and beautiful and enchanting and dangerous.  It was intoxicating, addictive and so brilliantly Holly Black!  And I just... I freaking loved it.
Hazel was such a complicated character – I was so, so impressed with the amount of characterisation Holly managed to fit into one girl in one book.  Hazel was a character that really grew on you; you started off thinking that, yeah, she was pretty cool, but by the end you were blown away by her strength and bravery and foolishness and love and stubbornness and badassness.
Ben, I adored.  The gay big brother with a difference and a dark secret that broke your heart.  He was so sweet and clever and funny.  I loved him!  And I loved watching him and Hazel, watched them get close all over again.  He was an awesome brother!
Jack – oh, I was so torn about him for ages, because he wasn't really in the book that that much.  But then there was this chapter from his perspective and... I totally fell for Jack.  He made so much sense and my heart hurt for him.  He was complex and sweet and funny and brilliant.  Totally love him!
And as for the Horned Prince – or Severin, to use his real name.  Unfortunately, I found it hard to read Severin without thinking Severus...  Oh well.  Severin intrigued me and I think I may have become almost as infatuated with him as Hazel and Ben were.  I really don't know what it was about him, but I fell for him.  He was... a prince: noble, loyal, brave, caring...  I loved him.
None of the characters in this book were perfect – they were so far from it.  And that just made me love them more.  Well, 'cept for the Alderking.  Hated him.  Wasn't fond of Jack's elf mother either.  But other than that, brilliant!
Holly Black is one of the most versatile authors when it comes to writing style.  She can write excitingly and simply, like in Spiderwick.  She can write snark and angst, like in Curse Workers.  And she can write beautiful, simple and otherworldly prose, like in The Darkest Part Of The Forest.  This writing... it was so very beautiful.  Seriously: there was so much backstory, so much description, but it was all just so beautiful and perfect and enchanting that it was just... effortless, to learn it all.
This plot... it was just so unexpected!  I literally never knew what to expect.  Just like the Folk, it was unpredictable and freaking addictive.  I couldn't get enough.  The action sequences, the fighting, were amazing.  The way Holly racked up the suspense was genius, wrapping fae magic up with mysterious happenings, a mystery, fighting and an Alderking.  It's safe to say that I freaking loved it.
I adore the world Holly created so so much.  She's a master of writing fae – seriously, a freaking black-belted, multi-award-winning master – and The Darkest Part Of The Forest might be my very favourite of her faerie tales to date.  The idea of this town living on the edge of a forest inhabited by wild fae was amazing – especially when you added the horned boy in the coffin, the tourists coming to see the fae and the fae doing all kinds of cruel things to the tourists because Fairfold residents were off-limits.  Yes, a fascinating, terrifying, beautiful, breath-taking world indeed!
The Darkest Part Of The Forest was pure magic – and far exceeded even my highest of expectations, also managing to be something totally different than your usual YA faerie book.  In fact, it was the best possible faerie tale imaginable; enchanting, magical, addictive, stunning, unexpected, twisty.  Full of fey, changelings, knights, kings, monsters, friends and a very odd town, The Darkest Part Of The Forest has left me both utterly satisfied and yet thirsty for more of this special blend of magic.  And, really, can you ask for any more than that?

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Indigo in exchange for an honest review

** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book

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