Review: There are those moments where you start a book and you know in your gut, it’s going to be an EXPERIENCE. The book is going to take you on a joReview: There are those moments where you start a book and you know in your gut, it’s going to be an EXPERIENCE. The book is going to take you on a journey and by the end of it, you’re going to be left feeling like it was the best adventure of your life. The Darkest Part of the Forest was such a book for me.
The world building is lush and vivid and memorizing and terrifying. Part of me wanted to live in Fairfold. I wanted to be walk through the forest and discover fairies of all kinds and see what they could do. I wanted to sneak off to the casket where the fairy prince slept and tell him all my innermost secrets. The other part of me wanted to run like hell in the other direction. Fairies in Fairfold are NO JOKE. They play for keeps and they love the dark. Once a bargain is struck or a rule is broken, they will come for you. The town of Fairfold was a character all it's own. It took on life, breathing magic into the pages and enfolding you in it's beauty and terror.
The characters were wonderfully diverse and wonderfully well-built. Hazel was my FAVORITE. She is wild and fierce and bold. Hazel willingly runs into the dark to face evil fairies and save those taken or avenge the ones who have been lost. Although Hazel is strong, she keeps herself VERY guarded. She doesn't let people get close to her, doesn't allow her heart to really open to anyone (outside of her brother Ben but even with him she keeps secrets). Hazel carries the weight of having to be a hero for her family, for her brother, for herself. I liked the mixture of Hazel's strengths and weaknesses. She grows as the story unfolds and learns to connect with her vulnerability and let people see it. She learns to better accept herself. I loved that!
Ben is adorable. He's completely accepting of his sister and never judges her. He has a hopeless romantic soul and a heart opened to anyone. He's easy to get along with, easy to trust and build a friendship with. He has a gift for music that is terrifying and beautiful. Ben is afraid of his musical gift even to the point where he's willing to break his own fingers. He is the dreamer and has a softer heart than Hazel.
Severin, the horned boy in the casket, is dangerous and lethal and DELICIOUS. Oh goodness, he's a bad boy if there ever was one and he will make your heart go all swoony while making your feet want to run in the opposite direction. There's no denying he's a fairy with a strength and power all his own and he has his own agenda for Fairfold.
There are some heavy themes addressed in the book: violent scenes, dead bodies, trickery and cruelty, and neglected parenting. Hazel and Ben's parents weren't exactly great parents growing up. They often left the kids unattended, hungry, and to fend for themselves. It's something that helped Ben and Hazel connect more deeply and learn to survive. I thought it was handled with just the right touch. It wasn't overly dramatic or dragged on or setup in a way to pity Hazel and Ben but used as a way to show how Ben and Hazel found a way to not only forge a better life but forgive and build better relationships with their parents.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the Darkest Part of the Forest! It is a book I will more than happily read again and again. It will sit on my To Be Treasured For Life shelf. It was a story I just couldn't stop devouring and I was enthralled from the beginning to end.
Anyone who is a fan of Holly Black, who loves stories filled with magic and fairies, who loves the fantasy genre will not be disappointed!