The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, published by Indigo on 5th February 2015
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…
This was my first Holly Black book and one which I had been really looking forward to reading. I know Holly Black's subject matter is normally faeries and magical beings, all wrapped up with fantastical plots, so I was expecting great things of 'The Darkest Part of the Forest'. While it didn't quite reach the heady heights of my favourite books list, I still enjoyed it a lot and would read more by her in the future.
It took a little while for the story to really pick up momentum. I'd say that I didn't feel fully immersed in the book until about hundred pages in but although the start was slow, it then kicked up a notch and everything seemed to click into place. I raced through the second half of the story.
The plot centres around a brother and sister called Ben and Hazel, who live in Fairfold. Their small town has faerie folk living in the forest and a sleeping boy with horns on his head lying in an unbreakable coffin. When the 'boy' finally awakens it spells trouble for the siblings who get sucked into a magical journey of truth and discovery. I loved Hazel's character and the bond that she and her brother Ben share. The closeness between the siblings really came across and I liked the fact that they felt almost incomplete without the other.
Highly original and unique, this book delivered lashings of fantasy, magic and adventure. I couldn't guess any of the plot twists, had no idea what was going to happen from one chapter to the next and got completely engrossed in the dark magic and mayhem that was generated throughout. I would quite like to go back and read it again now because I think I would appreciate it more the second time around. There are so many small details added into the book that I'm sure I would pick up on different aspects of the story on a second read through.
This was a terrific and entertaining book which I would recommend to readers who are new to Holly Black as well as long time fans.