Friday, 16 January 2015

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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?

Holly Black is the Queen of revealing the true terrifying natures of the Fae.

Every book she writes plays host to a whole array of strange and fantastical creatures that are the darkest versions of faeries imaginable, and they are utterly spellbindingly beautiful books. It is an incredible book, showcasing that Holly Black becomes even more talented with each book she writes. It showcases everything she has become known for – flowing prose, strong female characters, and a warping of the world around us until anything seems possible and even the most frightening things are real.

‘The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’ ushered in a new age of Black’s books, and an even more engrossing series of novels. Standalones featuring heady and terrifying new worlds, ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ isn’t quite as chilling (no pun intended) as ‘Coldtown’ but it branches out to give us a peak at Fairfold and the fae terrorizing its citizens.

It’s a dark novel full of secrets, lies and lost memories, featuring one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. The narrative skips back and forth between past and present, offering glimpses into each of the main characters lives and secrets, but ultimately following the story of Hazel, whose secrets and lies and deepest darkest desires are what act as the catalyst for the events that unfold. It explores the relationships both with herself and the two people closest to her – her brother Ben and her brother’s best friend, Jack.

Everything is kept hidden from the reader, the book holding onto its secrets to make you work to piece the whole of the puzzle together, and work I did, tearing through the book in a matter of hours. I loved it. The quiet terror and determination of the town to completely ignore and disregard all the magical things happening around them. The gradual unfurling of Hazel’s character and all the choices that have shaped her into the person we are introduced to and the relationships that are built back up into working, functional things.

This is an incredible new novel from an author who seems to have no difficulty creating unique works of art with each new book. They are always raw and full of human emotion and foolishness, beautiful highs and terrifying lows and often places that most authors shy away from. Black deals with difficult or taboo subjects with finesse and brilliance and I cannot recommend her books enough, and ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ is no exception. For new and old fans alike, this latest offering will not fail to delight and terrify.


  1. I'm so excited to read this one, it sounds fantastic! x

    1. It really is, Holly Black just keeps on getting better with each book! x