The Darkest Part of the Forest blurb:
In the woods there is a glass coffin. And in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.
Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side. Since they were children, Hazel and Ben have been telling each other stories about the boy in the glass coffin: that he is a prince and they are valiant knights. But as Hazel grows up, she puts aside those stories. Hazel knows the boy will never wake.
Until one day he does…
You know you read too many faerie books when you go to write a book review and you can’t quite remember which one this is about… Although, I have been on a bit of a Holly Black binge recently, so that could also be it as well! (Not to mention all the characters coming back into one big mix for The Cruel Prince!)
Meet Hazel and Ben, a totally normal brother and sister combo with moderately neglectful arty parents, who live in a town that is shared with the Folk. Totally normal, except Ben has been blessed with great musical abilities by the Folk, but it comes with a darkness as well. And Hazel, she has a secret that she’s keeping from herself. Deep in the forest on the outskirts of town, there’s a boy who lies asleep in an unbreakable glass coffin. Until things start to go awry, and then the boy is awake. And missing.
This story was awesome! I mean, I know I say that about a lot of Holly Black (and others) books, but this had everything in it, and in a single novel to boot!
Let’s talk about the characters, because I think Black does this really well. The two main(est) characters are Hazel and Ben. Now, you know when there’s usually a brother and sister combo, the boy has the sword and the girl has the looks, or the great musical talent or something else – well this is not that story. In this book, Hazel has the sword – she is the knight, and Ben is a gentle soul. A gentle soul that is also gifted by a musical talent that is a kind of magic in itself. Ben and Hazel have always been there for each other, especially with their parents not parenting very well, but they have secrets from each other as well. Secrets that are slowly tearing them apart.
Then there’s the other main(ish) characters. Severin is the boy who was in the glass coffin. He comes between Hazel and Ben as much as their secrets, but he has his own secrets to tell as well. And Jake – I love Jake. Jake is Ben’s best friend and a Fae and a changeling: he was swapped for a human baby by his birth mother, and he is living a half-human, half Fae life. I also love that Black has covered nearly every type of Fae vs human crossover in her books, but I’m totally going to cover this is a separate post.
The world building is great – urban fantasy at some of its best. And I know I keep harping on about it, but I love the way that all of Black’s Fae stories take place in the same world. There is a super minor, blink and you’ll miss it cameo of Roiben and Silarial from the Modern Faerie Tales (Tithe, Valiant and Ironside) in here, and the characters from this make a cameo appearance in The Cruel Prince!!
Look, I know I’ve come late to the party (reading my first Black book at the start of this year) but I am a fan! And I will keep reading these for as long as Black publishes them!