Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Book Summary
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?

Flo's Review
What an interesting, unique story. Holly Black does a great job of intermixing regular, modern high school drama with fairies and fantasy. I really liked the way she was able to seamlessly meld the two together. This is one of those novels where you don't know the full story up front -- as you read on, nuggets of what happened in the past are revealed to you. I am about 50/50 on that approach (sometimes it works for me and other times not), but I thought it was done well here.

Unfortunately, even with all that, the book could not hold my interest. I was listening to the audiobook and got about 2 hours in when I had to stop the first time. I believe Jacque asked me how it was and my only response was: "Weird." I gave it another two hours, and thought, "Okay." I set it aside and thought about coming back to it....but that was the last time I thought about it. If I can set a book aside and not even give it a second thought, then it's not for me. My library loan expired and I did not renew it.

Jacque's Review:
Hazel and Ben are a brother and sister who have grown up in the unusual town of Fairfold.  The locals know all of the "rules" to keep yourself safe from the monsters that live in the forest, but it is never safe for a tourist.  The faeries prey upon the unsuspecting visitors who come to visit the prince, who has been sleeping in the forest for generations.  The local high school students routinely gather around his glass casket to party, but the prince has had an even greater impact on the lives of Hazel and Ben.  While their parents were busy working, the siblings spent hours talking to the prince and pretending to kill the monsters in the forest.
One day, it is discovered that the prince is no longer in his casket.  Where did he go?  How did he escape? Is his disappearance related to the increase in violence in Fairfold?  
Holly weaves a wonderful tale that connects the human world with that of the faeries.  There is a boy named Jack, who is considered to be a "changeling".  He is an immortal faerie who has grown up with a human family in Fairfold.  Through him we are able to see how life on the other side really is.  While the faeries are known for their trickery, they aren't all bad.  There is more to the mystery of the "monster" than one can imagine and his or her true identity is not as obvious as it first appears.
The book started out a little slow for me, but it really took off about 100 pages in.  Once Hazel and Carter began working together to solve Farifold's mysteries, I simply could not put it down.  There are a couple of love stories that add an additional element of interest as well.

I haven't read Holly's Modern Faerie Tale series, but I am definitely intrigued by it now that I have completed this book.  I have added the first book in the series to my TBR list and hope to get to it soon.  Well...that is a relative term when your TBR list contains over 300 books, but I do look forward to reading it some day. 

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