Friday, January 9, 2015

Me on The Darkest Part of the Forest

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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?

The Darkest Part of the Forest is eerie and enchanting, magical and deceptive. This is a mix of the curious innocence of adventurous children and the angst and struggle of teens trying to figure out what their place in the world will be, what they'll have to battle against in order to keep it.

Hazel feels lost, aimless, undecided and afraid. She's trying to find out who she is, what her purpose is. What the thing is that will make her whole. What she does know is that it won't be being a knight, roaming the woods with a sword in her hand and a mission in her heart, with her bard brother Ben at her side, because that's childish. But still she searches. Ben is just as lost, both blessed and cursed. He's trying to live under the weight of it, under the weight of a gift he can't escape. The mystery of the horned boy in the glass coffin interests them both, more so when they were younger, and even more when he awakes. Who is he? What will he be to them, after all of their childhood fantasies?

Curses and consequences. Secrets and promises. Dreams and reality. It's interesting, where our imagination takes us when we're children. The far off places we travel to, the monsters we fight, the princes and princesses we save from fire-breathing dragons. Where does that wonder and magic go? It ends up buried underneath reality, responsibility, and duty. There's no time for dreams when the real world awaits, dripping with expectations for the future. But what we promise in the past somehow has a way of returning to haunt us in the present. What are we to do when we need to remember those promises?

This is a bewitching story of a young girl who dreamed of being a knight with her bard brother at her side. Nothing is easy for Hazel or Ben, or Jack. Nothing could ever be easy, not when it comes to being a teenager. Not when it comes to twisted faerie logic. This is almost like a brand new fairy tale: the brave knight racing through the trees, battling monsters and tricksters, with her brother right behind her, a flute in his hand as he pines for a faerie asleep in a glass coffin. A must-read for Holly Black fans.

(I received an ARC of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

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