My Thoughts About the Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Book Review #27)

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“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.” 
― Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest

4 stars out of 5.

I have Holly Black’s Coldest Girl in Coldtown which many says to be a very good stand alone novel. A lot often say that it is the best vampire novel that they read in years. I’ve been meaning to read it and I don’t what’s with me when I picked up and read this book first before that. I am not that interested with new releases (especially fantasy books) but something in this book drew me into it. I guess it’s the title and cover which is really so intriguing.
“There’s a monster in our wood. She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks. Punish you for all your tricks. Anest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming… home.”
― Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest
The book is set in the small town of Fairfold, a not the usual town where normal people lives. Here, fairies and different creatures, which are called Folks, mingle with normal people. With years of living together they learned how to live alongside each other and normal people learning things to avoid the tricks of those creatures. They learned how to be wary with their actions towards these creatures, for in every bad action that they do, it’ll mean a price needs to be paid. The main attraction of the little town is the handsome sleeping horned prince, Severin, in a transparent coffin situated in the middle of the forest. Something that the main characters who are siblings, Hazel and Ben Evans who lives in Fairfold with their family, totally adore. Growing up, they played as knights and sidekick. They traverse the forest in search of tourist being preyed upon and harassed by different creatures. Not the usual teens, but yes, they kill the creatures if they have to. Complexities arose when the horned prince, who’s been all this time sleeping for hundreds of years, one day woke up and the secrets of the darkest parts of the forest, began unraveling. (Yes, he’s just sleeping and all this time he hears everyone who comes near his coffin whispering to him all their secrets and whatnot, kind of creepy).

The start is quite shaky for me. I find myself rereading some of the parts to better understand what I am reading. But I blame it to me not being a fan of fantasy novels. But after delving more into the book I learned to be with the book and connect to the world that the author created.

The promise of having good characters and a creepy read was executed well for me.

The idea and premise behind the book is not new but the author added colors and a new dimension about prince and princess killing monsters, fairies living with the normal people and bargains that protagonist made with the antagonist among others. I like how the author played with the characters and how she developed them by giving them good backgrounds. I enjoyed reading the background of each character which are totally manicured to help the readers analyze why the characters react on certain situations on the book. I also loved how the author mixed fantasy elements to modern life.

“We love until we do not. For us, love doesn’t fade gradually. It snaps like a branch bent too far.” 
― Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest
One thing that I also like about this book is how dark it is. I like how the author worked with secrets, suspicions and doubts and eventually using those to make strong characters. We have the siblings who are both gifted. We have Hazel, who has good fighting skills, who’s been hiding secrets upon secrets and do stuff like being known to hookup and kiss boys at every party she go to hide the truth of how she really feels and there’s Ben, who uses his music to helped his sister defeat and slay monsters but always doubts himself and keeps things on his own despite knowing the truth. At first I am irritated with how selfish they both are but as the story progressed and after much thought I managed to understand their sides. And we also have their friends who also share same spotlight as them on the book and also who at the end became their comrades in defeating the main antagonist in the book that lurks in the darkest part of the forest. One character who is notable is Jack, Ben’s best friend, who is half Folk and half human. He lives like a normal human being but the secrets of his past keeps haunting him which left him no choice but to face them. And there’s the horned boy, Severin, who woke up in a world far different from before. He has to make ends meet and survive the new worlds where he’s at and make decisions where his life is at stake. I just love how each of the characters showed bravery in one way or another. I adore Holly Black’s world building and character development.

The book had me very intrigued with the not-the-usual set of characters and not-the-usual world. Midway reading it, I lose that “intrigue” that keeps me going because what came after was surprise and awe.

The to-the-point description made me appreciate and picture how dark and magical Fairfold is. The choice of words is also convincing enough for me to realize that I don’t want to be in that world.

Though I enjoyed the book, premise and the characters, I am not a fan of the storytelling and the narration. In the middle of the book I felt like the story became so dragging. The movement of the story line from the present to the past with flashbacks is at some point confusing for me. At some point the tone is monotonous. This is one of the few books, I believe, that is meant to be slowly read.
“Who cares about a test? There will be a million more quizzed in your life.” 
― Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest
The book talks about human’s deepest desires and relationships that we have with our peers and family. It’ll make you think about the “darkest” part of you that you can’t say to anyone. What I also like is how it is not just centered into one theme. It discussed the complex relationships between friends, family, sibling and lovers. There is a love story in the book and it is just good enough for me. I love how each of them accepts each other with their flaws and learn how to work with those flaws.

Plus points: I didn’t expect that there would be LGBT characters in the story. 🙂 Just guess who Ben ended up with. 😉

This is my first Holly Black book and I must say that she did a good job with this book.

Beautifully written. Creative and magical.

4 stars out of 5.

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