The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Also by this author: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on December 9, 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 39 minutes
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?
Not all covers are created equal, in my opinion, and I have to confess to being in love with this one. Pair that with a great experience reading Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and it was just a matter of time before I broke down to read, or rather, listen to this one as well.
A modern day fairy tale featuring a girl named Hazel who strives to be knight, playing with her brother Ben in what she believes to be a world of make believe with makeshift swords and attire. But what kind of fairytale would this be if everything remained pretend? We hear of a mysterious horned boy who sleeps in a glass coffin in the woods. Teenagers whose pranks and antics are unable to rouse or disturb him, unable to pierce or shatter the glass that contains him. A changeling that has been kept by the human family that discovered him.
The book skips timelines, making the reader piece together the story with the bits and pieces they are given. And with Hazel as a narrator, the story may be a bit skewed. We learn about Hazel’s personality a bit, her penchant for kissing boys, her childhood spent with inattentive parents fighting pretend fae with her brother. But one day, pretend becomes a horrifying reality, make believe fighting becomes real, and a sword, a real sword, finds its way into their lives.
The story is engaging and a bit dark (as any good fairytale should be), with flowing prose that seems to weave the world with a magical bent. It is also fast, to be honest, I might have liked the story to have been lengthened a bit, but at the same time, it worked well, so I don’t want this to seem like a complaint. I think I’m just not used to reading books this length. Honestly, it is a bit like a YA version of Robert Cargill’s Dreams and Shadows. It makes you question the world around you, question if there is something fae in what you see. It is also a story of love and companionship, being strong and also of acceptance. And it was just a wonderful way to spend the day, listening to the Black’s world and story come to life.