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The Darkest Part of the Forest Book Review

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black is one of my favorite books from 2015. It can be a hard sell when an excited reader first tries to describe the general plot of the book and Holly Black’s writing style. That conversation goes a little something like this:

“It’s a young adult book about a small town that is a tourist trap and weird attacks and murders start to happen!”

“Oh, really? Well that sounds like a pretty cool book.”

“Yah! And there are Faeries!”

“Faeries… Oh.”

Then you watch as their interest dies, even as you try to backpedal and explain how dark and complex the plot really is. Visions of Tinkerbell dance in their head, and alas, it‘s too late.

So what I want you to do is stop! Right now! Stop thinking about Tinkerbell and come back. Just stay with me a little while longer, because the faeries in The Darkest Part of the Forest are based off Celtic folklore. Trust me when I tell you that those faeries are definitely not Tinkerbell.

The book starts off with a boy asleep in a glass coffin who has been asleep for years. He is oddly beautiful, with horns and ears pointed like knives. Nothing has been able to disturb his slumber, which has been going on for longer than anyone can remember; long enough for the town to become a tourist trap because of him. When the boy suddenly wakes up, the two main characters, siblings Hazel and Ben, are then caught up in the events that surround him.

People start to disappear and die. It is obviously the Faeries doing. The people of the town have lived with the Faeries long enough not to be too concerned; however the secrets that Hazel and Ben hide are starting to catch up with them and every chapter brings more danger and twists.

The Faeries are powerful, mischievous, twisted, and dangerous. One of the main characters is gay and fantastically written. Hazel and Ben’s relationship with their parents is complex and a little bit disturbing at times. The characters are so real and flawed it hurts. You just want to wrap these kids up in blanket and tell them that they don’t have to fight the evil alone. But, of course, they do; and the reader is lucky enough to watch their train wreck of a hero’s quest.

The settings are rich and lend so much to the story. The Forest goes from being a place of fun and fantasy to something darker. The town goes from a safe haven to claustrophobic as the plot goes on. Even the school falls under attack.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a great example of the mundane and the magical weaving together without flaw. It is complex and satisfying. I would very much encourage anyone to read it!

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