The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Length: 8.5 hours
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Original Publication Date: 2015
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy, LGBT
Nothing is what it seems in the strange town of Fairfold. The townspeople and fae coexist, but tourists are fair game, and many come up missing every year. That, along with the monster in the heart of the forest, should be a deterrent to anybody. But what brings the tourists to town is a horned boy in a glass coffin in the middle of the woods. Years go by and the horned boy does not wake. Until one day, he does. And chaos ensues. And Hazel, who used to pretend she was a knight fighting fae and saving the town of Fairfold, has the strangest feeling she had something to do with it. Alongside her brother Ben and their half-human, half-fae friend Jack, Hazel must once again take up her sword and put an end to the monster in the heart of the woods.
Finally a YA fantasy STANDALONE!!! I have always loved fantasy, especially in high school. Reading is always an escape, but fantasy takes that escapism to a whole new level. I love getting lost in magical realms, from Hogwarts to the Shire, but almost every fantasy is a long, drawn-out series. Now that I’m out of college and have a job and pretty much just work, cook, and sleep, I don’t have time for series. I don’t really like reading series anymore. So I was really happy to see The Darkest Part of the Forest being a standalone. Plus, I love faeries, so I had to read it. Unfortunately, I listened to it, and I kind of regret it.
The story is told in third-person and follows Hazel, Ben, and Jack, and the events surrounding the horned boy. At first, the story was a little hard to follow because it kept flashing back and forth from past to present. And because I was listening to it, I kept spacing out and forgetting what was going on. I think I missed a couple key moments, too, so that didn’t help. It was just a little slow for me, until the horned boy woke up. Once he awoke, I was fully immersed in the story, and the action picked up enough that I was hooked.
The main character, Hazel, was strong and defiant, and I liked that about her. I found her kind of annoying sometimes, especially with how quickly she jumped to conclusions and did silly things, but in the end I liked her more than I did in the beginning. I liked her brother Ben, too, and their sibling relationship. My girlfriend thinks it’s weird how close I am to my older brother, but I don’t think it’s weird. I really related to Hazel and Ben in that respect. And I really loved that they both loved the horned boy—I wasn’t expecting that. It made an interesting dynamic, and I’m eternally grateful to Black for not taking the opportunity to turn it into a love triangle. THANK YOU. And speaking of the romance, thank you. Like, I’m sitting at work and listening to this girl talk about a boy’s hands running over her ribs and I legit got goosebumps. I loved it, and I loved how there was just the right amount of romance in the novel to not turn it into a sappy, YA love-fest.
I really did like the story, but I wish I would have read it as apposed to listening to it… I strongly disliked the narrator. I did not like her reading voice. I did not like the way she voiced the characters. I did not like any part of it. So that really kind of ruined it for me. I tried to separate the story from the voice, but it was hard. Maybe I’ll actually read it one day…
Other than that, pretty solid story. I enjoyed the writing a lot, and again, I am super impressed that Black fit all of this into a standalone. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I had been seriously missing the fantasy genre and enjoyed stepping back into it. Maybe I’ll have to dive into a series, now, after all…
–“The only way to end grief was to go through it.”