The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (2015)
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in a town where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. 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…
My result: Recommended
I was drawn to The Darkest Part of the Forest by the promise of a sibling relationship front and center, and faeries which are both enchanting and dangerous. What I found are characters to fall in love with.
Hazel is a leading lady with spirit. She dreams of being a knight and she’s got the guts to do it. In a town where human and fae live side by side, she’s not afraid of even the darkest fae. There are monsters in the woods, and she’ll take them on with her brother Ben. She may nurture dreams of waking the horned boy in the glass coffin, but she’ll make her own fairy tale adventure until then.
She’s just as fearless at school. There are a lot of reasons to kiss boys, and she lives each day as if it could be her last. It’s a refreshing attitude to see, and I enjoyed seeing a more open, carefree approach to boys. There’s no shaming here, and Hazel is a complex, layered character that’s a lot of fun to figure out. Her narrative voice hooked me from the first chapter. There are mysteries hidden behind what she says, and it’s a pleasure to unravel them as the story progresses.
In The Darkest Part of the Forest, the sibling bond is the most important relationship in the book, and Ben is just as central a character as Hazel. He has the fae gift of music, and plays bard to his sister’s knight when they take on the monsters of the forest.
But fae magic is hard to control. After a horrifying accident, Ben has sworn off magic. To save the town, his sister, and the boy he’s growing to love, Ben will have to face his fears and use his fae magic.
Jack is a changeling, raised as twin to the boy he was supposed to replace after their human mom outsmarted the fae. He looks human (most of the time) but there’s always a wildness to him. With a human family that will do anything to protect him, and a fae family that calls him to join the revels, Jack is halfway between worlds.
Jack is Ben’s best friend, and has been close to both siblings for years. With the rest of the town, he has to hide the strangeness that lives just below the surface. Not with Hazel, who’s as wild as he is. Or with Ben, who can hear the same beat of fae magic. But Jack will have to reveal himself to everyone if he’s to keep his friends safe, and his families from hurting each other.
Meet the Horned Boy
The horned boy has slept under a curse for generations, listening. He’s listened to whispered confessions and daydreams, and heard the actions of parties and tourists.
Hazel and Ben have imagined him their prince: to send them on a grand adventure or give them their happily ever after. But now the horned boy is awake. And he’s not what either of them expected.
Fantastic characters made The Darkest Part of the Forest an enthusiastic yes within a few pages. With a sibling relationship front and center, a female lead with spunk and a refreshing attitude towards boys, a brother who’s gifted and kind, and a changeling raised as twin to the boy he was supposed to replace, there’s a lot to love here. I also appreciated having a romance storyline for both siblings, gay and straight. Both sibling’s stories stay intimately connected to the plot, all the way through.
If you like The Darkest Part of the Forest
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