Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Darkest Part Of The Forest Review

Hello nerd-peeps! Today I will be discussing the new(ish) Holly Black book, called The Darkest Part Of The Forest. Words cannot express my love for the characters, the setting... everything about this book.

So basically this book is sort of urban fantasy, sort of psychological thriller and totally amazing. It's about this weird town called Fairfold where there is, undeniably, faerie presence.

There's a sleeping prince, two twins who both love this prince, a curse, the-faerie-next-door, true love, magic and more. It's an amazing read and I highly, highly recommend this book.

I won't give you a full synopsis because I don't think you should go into this book knowing everything, I think it's really fun to explore this weird, amazing book as you go along.

So go grab yourself a copy then head back here so we can properly discuss!


Wow. This was everything I wanted and more. This whole world Holly Black has created, the whole atmosphere and especially the characters just roped me into this book and wouldn't let me go for the entirety of the time I was reading it.

First of all- Fairfold. What the ever-loving heck is up with this town? I loved the whole "well if you get hurt you're a tourist" type of mentality. It just added another layer of creepy to the situation, that these people excused the faerie's murdering and havoc by saying that their victims did something wrong, broke the rules, behaved like a dumbfounded tourist.

The mythology of this whole book was wonderful. The idea of having the prince in the glass case, the forest with weird enchanted creatures, the Alderking who everyone was scared of but didn't really talk about. The fact that these people in the town were so okay with all of this and that they just accepted it was very eerie and magical.

My favourite thing about this book was the characters. In my opinion, characters drive a story, and no matter how fantastic and wonderful the setting and plot is, if you have dry, boring characters your story can't succeed. That certainly was not a problem in this book. There are four main characters in this book, Hazel, Ben, Jack and Severin. Of course, there are other characters, too, like Carter and Mrs Gordon, but I'll discuss them later on.

Hazel, our main narrator, was everything I could've wanted from a kick-butt female protagonist of a supernatural novel. She was fiery and shamelessly flirty, a trait I don't see often in *positively portrayed* female characters. She wasn't afraid to fight for what she wanted and she was traditionally feminine but also a faerie knight, which was just a terrific change from the normal "I'm not like other girls" female protags. I genuinely thought that Hazel would end up with Severin, as well. It was only half way in that I thought maybe things weren't going the way I thought they were.

We got a few chapters from the perspective of Ben, Hazel's brother, and I was so, so glad. He was an amazing character and such a contrast from Hazel. Ben was a bit more demure than Hazel, more easily shaken. He was a bit like the typical talented artist, a bit kooky and unique. I loved that where Hazel didn't think much about love or romanticize her situation at all, Ben was a through-and-through romantic. His narration, although not in first person, was much more romantic and soft than Hazel's. I felt like Hazel was like a firework and Ben was like watercolour paint.

I didn't expect Hazel and Jack to end up together. I thought that she'd pine after him until Severin woke up, and then she'd fall in love with him. I thought, originally, that it was more likely that Ben and Jack might end up together. I wasn't super in love with Jack; he was fairly flat. He never really was overly interesting on his own, but I loved the dynamic he had with Hazel and Ben. The way his whole character was based around this idea that he wasn't even supposed to be there, wasn't even related to his family but still undeniably tied to them was really interesting and was just another amazing layer of intrigue Holly inserted into this novel.

Severin was everything I could've wanted from his character and more. I loved the mystery and magic that his character was surrounded by, and the way he was slowly trying to work out the "human" feelings he was having for Ben. I loved the way he spoke, like he was from a different time but he'd spend years and years listening and comprehending what people said to him, and his language was a mish-mash of different sorts of slang. And the way he just perfectly fitted into Ben and Hazel's tight little bond, like he really had been their prince was just amazing.

I loved his relationship with Ben and the way they bonded over family even though they were so, so different. It was so amazingly easy to ship and adore all the main relationships in this book.

To be perfectly honest, these four characters drove the story and I would happily read another seven books about them please Holly give me a ten thousand word novella where Ben and Severin and Hazel and Jack attempt to have a very normal life and Ben takes Severin out for ramen and cute domestic fluff like that PLEASE.

Even the minor characters in this book, like Carter, Mrs Gordon and Hazel's mother all had such an amazing atmosphere surrounding them. Mrs Gordon, Carter and Jack's mother, was the typical over-protective, homely mother, like Molly Weasley. But even she wasn't just as she seemed, with her whole backstory of being the Alderking's lover and demanding to get her baby back. The way Holly developed the average stereotype of small town people in this book into a slightly altered just plain weird set of individuals was really quite amazing. They were all such familiar character archetypes, but the way they interacted and dealt with the odd, supernatural events in the town made them foreign, maybe even more dark as characters. The whole town of Fairfold was not only an amazingly well developed setting but also made even better by the powerful yet minor characters who drove it.

The actual storyline, the problems with Hazel being the Alderking's knight and Sorrow's vengeance on the town was also an amazing element of the story (although I may have been too busy crying in awe at the characters to pay a whole lot of attention to the plot). The faeries, as per usual, were dark, enticing, dangerous creatures. A lot of the faerie mythology was the average sort of mythology but with this new twist of a sleeping prince and the "king of the forest". And also the fact that the entire town knew that there were faeries. I don't think I've ever read a book where everyone knows that faeries exist and are living among them.

In addition to the whole faerie-war aspect of the book, there is also of course the fact Hazel was a legitimate knight, in service of the Alderking. I certainly didn't see that coming, and if you did I salute you! I thought that was a really cool twist because the childhood flashbacks Hazel gave us had a vaguely fairy-tale vibe, with a prince and a knight and the more cerebral, strategic sidekick.

I really appreciated the way everything you expected from this book was flipped. As someone who reads a lot of YA fiction, I can tell you that a lot of the time, it's the same old tired narrative used over and over again. But in this book, the heroine was just that- a heroine. She was the knight, not her love interest, not her brother. She didn't fall in love with the charming swoon-worthy faerie prince, her brother did. Instead, she ended up with the guy who, ordinarily in YA fiction, might be flung into the unappreciated "friend-zoned boy-next-door" type. And I totally thought it was going to be that way! It was such a pleasant surprise to see something different and I hope I am able to find more books like this!

The Darkest Part Of The Forest was an amazing, dark, perfect read. I loved it a lot and I hope you guys did too! I will certainly be picking up some more Holly Black so if you have any experience with the other Holly Black books, let me know below in the comments.

If you agree, disagree or just want me to see some words you have strung together don't be afraid to comment below and let me know! If you want to get in touch with me and don't have a google plus account, feel free to send me a tweet to @lilypherondale, an ask to my tumblr, sherlockcrumpets or even an email to if you want discuss business or just say hi. I would love to talk to you, to be perfectly honest. I can send you puns and we can be friends. It'll be great.

See you next week for another post!

Lily xoxo

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