Irregular Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest The Darkest Part of the Forest
Holly Black
★★★★☆ (I really liked it.)

Goodreads summary:

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…

I was so excited to finally get a chance to read this. I was not disappointed.

The Good

I’ve mentioned before that Holly Black’s Tithe was life changing for me as a sixteen-year-old. It introduced me to urban fantasy, and I spent the next several years reading everything I could find. All because this one book turned me onto this genre and I couldn’t get enough.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is Tithe, if Holly Black wrote Tithe ten more years into her writing career. I’m not saying she’s recycling ideas or characters, and this isn’t a reboot of the Modern Tales of Faerie series. It’s a return to themes and concepts of those books, by a more mature writer: conflicted family relationships, trying to protect the ones you love by lying to them, a childhood (mis)spent with faeries, a town on the edge between reality and fairy land. There’s even a faerie revel like in Tithe, but instead of just being about Kaye and Kaye’s problems, Hazel has to worry about her whole town – and that was better handled than when the courtless fairies run amok over Kaye’s town in Tithe. The diversity felt more authentic and less weirdly Mary Sue-ish, and the realities of growing up with irresponsible bohemian artist parents were more realistically addressed.

I’m not putting down Tithe at all here. I loved Tithe. I just think The Darkest Part of the Forest is better, at least, technically.

The Bad

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a the better book, but I think Tithe is more fun. Maybe just because Roiben is so dreamy. Swoon.

My only other criticism? Why, at least in the books by Holly Black that I’ve read, which is not all of them, is the main character a straight girl and the secondary character a gay boy? Although, once again, even that was better handled than Tithe‘s Kaye and Corny; Ben was much more fleshed out and interesting as a person.

The Verdict

This is a good book, and you should read it – especially if you liked Tithe in particular or urban fantasy in general. The Darkest Part of the Forest weaves together a contemporary, character-driven novel with an urban fantasy adventure story, and it was very well done.

I really liked the shout out/potential future tie-in to Tithe, and Roiben’s old queen and the new king on the East Coast.

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