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The Darkest Part of the Forest

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

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?

336 pages, Hardcover

First published January 13, 2015

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About the author

Holly Black

221 books86.6k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
February 18, 2021
I feel like my life is just a constant cycle of finally getting past the book I was obsessing about and then immediately finding another book to obsess about.

My heart is growing a lot and I want to cover this story and these characters in it. This book made me want to lie down on the forest floor for a moment or two and just breathe in and out and in and out, letting nature wash over me with dirt in my hair and dew on my skin while the sun slowly slips into the sky and the morning is slowly borning all around me. I'm honestly a total fucking mess over this book.... but like, a glittery, light pink, soft mess. And I seriously wish it didn't have to end. I need at least five books starring these characters!

🌟so what is this book about?

The Darkest Part of The Forest is a standalone urban fantasy about two siblings - Hazel & Ben, who live in a weird small town that borders a kingdom of fae and elves and all kinds of mythical creatures. And in the woods, there is a glass coffin and in it sleeps a horned beautiful elf prince.

Hazel & Ben - a forest fire and a gentle breeze, having too much earth and freedom in their hearts spent their childhood walking on the wild side, chasing cryptids and bad ideas (Hazel with a sword and Ben with hypnotizing music). That is, when they're not lying on the glass coffin, making up stories about the horned boy who's asleep beneath.....until he disappears overnight.

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. A nest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming… home.

This book has such winter vibes to it, the equivalent of waking up in the middle of the crispy night and looking out the window and there’s snow on the ground and the sky is kind of light-colored and it looks foggy and misplaced and kind of eerie but also comforting. And I honestly cannot believe there was ever a time when I didn’t have immediate access to this story. Actually, I've decided I'm completely disenchanted with the human experience and I'd like to retreat into this book!


One of the many things I loved about this book is the diversity. There are main characters of color and main queer characters whose storyline does not necessarily involve around their sexuality and I was so there for it!

Also, this is basically a gay fairytale where the BOY GETS THE PRINCE and if that does not make you want to read this book immediately, I don't know what will...


Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.

I wish a knight in shining armor would come and sweep me off my feet and by knight in shining armor I mean Hazel.

Hazel unwittingly lives a double life. Day Hazel is an ordinary high school student who kisses too many boys to fill her empty. Night Hazel is the trusted and cunning knight whispering intrigues and rumors into the ear of the Alderking who then listens and adapts his court strategy to fit her given information. And one of them doesn't know the other one exists.

I really love confident female characters and how they beam lighthouse just from arriving; those who are so inherently inspiring. I am forever proud of the characters who go from being fragile and incertain to confident and strong. Hazel has assigned herself the role of the knight in the story of her life. She's the one who forges the sword, charges into the woods and does the saving and I literally love her so much!!!!


I need to stop fantasizing about running away to some other life and start figuring out the one I have.

OKAY. I seriously wish I had big soft wings to protect Benjamin so this is a public announcement that I'm hereby destroying the idea that any harm would ever come his way!

Ben is a musician and that was a gift given to him by the Fae. Except, that gift came with a price and Benjamin has spent his entire life building a scaffolding of excuses to avoid admitting that the price was losing control.

I really just love Ben so much!! He's so precious and I'm so glad he fell in love with someone who never stops choosing him and makes him feel at home when he look at them and aaah I'm literally ready to invest my entire livelihood just shipping him and Severin!!


We love until we do not. For us, love doesn’t fade gradually. It snaps like a branch bent too far.

Don’t believe any boy who says “I’m not like other guys" unless he has curving horns, glowing green eyes and has been asleep in a glass coffin for generations. And only if he also happens to be an elf prince.

Severin is the kind of character who would break a poet's heart and they’ll write poems about him forever and he will be on their wiki page as a mysterious, possibly villified figure. Everything about him is so iconic, from his glass coffin to the fact that he's a deadly elf prince but also just a goofy boy who spins in a swivel chair wearing his boyfriend's sweater.

I honestly love Severin so much and I would actually like to be him. So I would really appreciate it if someone would make arrangements to sponsor my retreat into a desolate wilderness environment and my loved ones could only undergo the trek to come visit me exactly once a year on the winter solstice thanks.


Well fine, then. I could send you out to win my favor. Possibly on a quest involving bringing a large mug of coffee and a doughnut. Or the wholesale slaughter of all my enemies. I haven’t decided which.

Do yo ever think about a certain fictional character and your stomach just does the ✨ 💫 💖 🌟 💫 💫 🌈 ✨ 🌟 💖 💫 ✨ 🌈 thing? That's how I feel about Jack.

Jack is a fae changeling who's been raised by a human family and he's become so good at tricking himelf out of remembering that he was not one of them, ignoring the holes in him that belonged to the other side of the border, the parts of him that don’t mesh well with this newfound world.... until the townsfolk were being attacked by the fae and the lingering blame fell on him. So which side is he going to fight for? (also, I'm here to ship him with Hazel with all my heart WHY ARE THEY ALL SO PRECIOUS I ONLY HAVE ONE HEART TO WORK WITH HERE!!!)


*me yelling from a megaphone on the street corner and handing out pamphlets* THE MORAL OF THIS STORY KIDS IS THAT Y'ALL ARE SLEEPING ON THIS BOOK AND YOU NEED TO READ IT ASAP!!

Oh by the way, Benjamin & Severin are playing the cameo role in Holly Black's new upcoming release The Cruel Prince so you really do want to read this book and meet them first!!

I love you like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I’ve loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved that you made me want to laugh. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all.

If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on ko-fi !

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
May 24, 2021
4.5 stars


Holly Black at her finest.
Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.
Seriously, how does Holly Black create such bone-chillingly wondrous books time and time again?

Hazel Evans and her brother (Ben) live in Fairfold - a town blessed (cursed?) by the fair folk. The food tastes better, the art is more beautiful and the world, far crueler.
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. A
nest of hair and gnawed bone.
You are never, ever coming...
And despite all that, Hazel loves Fairfold with every fiber of her being. Despite its wild and twisted ways, Fairfold's magic has swept her up and into its clutches...
Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin.
The town is famous (in part) due to the horned boy with pointed ears in the glass coffin. Generations have played on and around his coffin but the boy has never aged and never moved. Until now

The Horned Boy is no longer in the coffin. Quickly, Hazel realizes that her once (semi) safe town is in jeopardy and it is on her shoulders to keep the town safe. No matter what.

I love everything that Holly Black has ever written - the way she breaths life into a book just blows me away (and this book was no exception!).

The cast of characters really made this one shine. I admired Hazel's strength, Ben's devotion, Jack's otherworldly tendencies and Carter's love. The way they played off of each other was superb.

Also, I love the way Holly Black portrays LGBT characters in her books - they are never the main motive of the plot. They simply exist and the plot moves around them (can I get a hallelujah!?)

Also, the story of Jack's origins just melted my heart. He needs his own book. Right. Now.

In short - this one was fabulous. I have a feeling that I'll be going for another reread in the near-future.

Audiobook Comments
Lauren Fortgang absolutely nails this narration. I just loved listening to her voice. Could not recommend this audiobook more.

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Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews168k followers
October 15, 2018
I LOVED THE CHARACTERS in this!! If anything they were the pull that kept me coming back to this book. I also liked how weird this book got! BRING ON THE WEIRDNESS AND YOU'RE SURE TO WIN ME OVER. I do think this book missed the WOW factor and I wasn't super keen on the plot, but it was still a fun time.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,165 reviews98.2k followers
March 8, 2023

[September 20th, 2019]:
The Darkest Part of the Forest is still a masterpiece in 2019, and I'm honestly overwhelmed with how much I love this story.

[October 20th, 2015]:
“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”

This was such a whimsical and beautiful story about a sleepy little down named Fairfold, who has a pact with all the faeries that if the fae leave them alone, all the tourists are free game. But why would tourists want to visit this little town nestled in the forest? Oh, because a handsome horned fae boy is asleep in an unbreakable glass casket. Some visit because they do not believe in magic, some come because they do. Regardless of their beliefs or opinions, the tourists come.

The main character, Hazel, is a brave girl who tries to fight the evil fae with her brother. After a close scare, she makes a deal with the fae king of the forest for her brother to have his wish come true . She only had to trade seven years of her life that the king decides to take while she is asleep. So every night, Hazel does the king's bidding and wakes up in the morning, in her own bed, with no recollection on the night's events. Hazel is none the wiser, until the handsome horned fae boy is finally broken free of this glass casket.

One thing that kept sticking out to me was that there is a lot of "duos" in this book. For starters, it seems like each family has two children (Hazel/Ben, Jack/Carter, Severin/Sorrel). There are two side by side romances going on throughout the book (one f/m, one m/m). Both are wonderful, and leave you wanting more. Then a main story line is all about two powerful swords. Lastly, we are also given night Hazel verses day Hazel. There is lots of coupling and pairs throughout this impactful little story.

“We love until we do not. For us, love doesn't fade gradually. It snaps like a branch bent too far.”

I can't say too much more without giving away some amazing twists and turns, but this was such a good read. This is exactly the kind of fantasy book I like to read. This spoke to my heart and soul, and I enjoyed it immensely. Holly Black is such a wonderful writer, and her art of threading words together that will make you feel everything under the sun, is untouchable. I have loved and devoured everything she's ever written, and The Darkest Part of the Forest was no exception.

“I love like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I've loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved that you made me want to laugh. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all.”

I was also lucky enough to get this signed from B&N when it was first released this year.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
October 25, 2014
Oh book, you make it so difficult to rate you.

The thing about Holly Black is that she writes in very different styles. Before I read White Cat, I tried the first of her Faerie books - Tithe - (really didn't get into it), and her Spiderwick Chronicles (cute kids books but not really my thing). Then I discovered the Curse Workers trilogy and holy shit awesomeness: it was great! I liked the characters, the plot, and the twists... so much good.

The Darkest Part of the Forest feels closer to her earlier works. There's something about her writing here that doesn't agree with me; that takes a premise that I was desperate to fall in love with... and makes it so very not compelling. I'm going to try and explain what it is the best I can, because when you strip this book down to what it plainly is, it should totally be my thing. It just isn't.

What is this book?
It's a dark, creepy fairy tale. I know what you're thinking: YEEESSSSS! I was too. It's about people who make deals with Fae folk and have to pay the price; it's about beautiful Fae princes who awaken after hundreds of years and wreak havoc; it's about the secrets that hide in the darkest part of the woods.

Oh god... aren't you just desperate to get a load of that? If someone said those words to me about a book, I would be preordering it within an instant. But this book had a couple of intriguing first chapters with an interesting protagonist and promises of creepy, dark goodness, and then it became so difficult to read on. It felt like an effort to make myself pick the book back up.

I'm not even sure if it is the writing itself that makes the plot so not compelling. Or if the plot sounds good but fails in the execution. All I know is that I never came to care what was going to happen. We were told that the situation was dire, but I never got a sense of that. The setting and language was creepy and atmospheric, but the main story wasn't. In fact, it seemed pretty juvenile.

I would almost describe this as a Spiderwick Chronicles for older teens. A brother and sister must tackle the world of the Fae folk - a world that constantly introduces us to an assortment of creatures that I cannot even recall right now. Occasionally, we got really cool passages like this:

“He couldn’t have understood what it felt like to dance until the force of his steps seemed to crack open the earth itself, to be among creatures who had never been human and could never be human, to be one of them. And Ben couldn’t have known the shame that Jack felt after, when, sweat cooling on his skin, he promised himself that when they came for him the next time, he wouldn’t go.
A promise that he’d never keep.”

But the story just wasn't doing it for me. Plus, it was peppered with flashbacks that distracted me from the main issue at hand and didn't really add anything (most of them, anyway).

This was one of my most highly anticipated releases - so disappointing.

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Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
301 reviews40.3k followers
August 10, 2015
This was such a satisfying read! I started this not knowing pretty much anything about the book and I'm so glad I didn't read more into the synopsis. It was such a fun and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
530 reviews34.5k followers
April 9, 2018
”They were in love with him because he was a prince and a faerie and magical and you were supposed to love princes and faeries and magic people."

This LINE!!! It resonated so much with me when I read the book!
It describes my love for faeries in the best possible way and I can’t thank Holly Black enough for writing it down! I think this is going to be one of my favourite quotes ever. XD
And I’m convinced Holly Black and I will have a very long and prosperous relationship in the future! If all her books are at least as good as this one, I’ll give her all my money without even thinking about it!!! *lol*

This wasn’t only exactly what I needed but also everything I ever wanted!!!
HELL! It was what I craved for all my life!!

I’m no fan of nice faeries, I want them to be heartless, seductive, brutal and dangerous!
For me it’s no Tinker Bell! Nope! *shakes head*
I want the real deal and how they are described in the myths and legends.
And boy, did Holly Black deliver!
So deliciously that I can’t help but sigh whenever I think about the book. *lol*
I mean she even pulled off the rhymes. <333

”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.
A nest of hair and gnawed bone.
You are never, ever coming…

The way she executed everything was just amazing to read!!!

The plot:

An entire town which is living in coexistence with the fair folk?! CHECK!
Cruel, cunning faeries that twist your every word?! CHECK!
Mysterious happenings!? CHECK!
A magical fairy tale with a bisexual gifted red head, a strong heroine, a gorgeous and cheeky changeling and a seductive sleeping faerie prince who lies in a glass coffin and causes trouble by waking up?! CHECK! CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!!!


Do I have to say more?!

Then let’s go to my favourite part! The character’s section! ;-P

The characters:

If you don’t want to be spoiled you have to stop now, because this is the part where I quote the book and talk about the characters and their development! So yeah, lots of spoilers in your near vicinity! You better tread carefully or you heed my warning and leave now. It’s up to you. ;-P


”The trick was not to let herself think about it too much. Anything that stopped her from thinking would do. Anything that kept her from pressing her hand against her chest to feel the thudding of her own heart and know that each beat was another moment lost.”

I really liked that girl! She’s so kick-ass and amazing! I mean she’s turning into a faerie knight in the night and at day she’s just a normal girl! How awesome is that?! Since the Alderking always took her memories she doesn’t remember anything of it though, which really sucks if you ask me. But then again she’s an honest and righteous girl who only wants the best for her people and to say to be one of the Alderking’s knight’s doesn’t fit with her believes as “daylight Hazel” would certainly be putting it more than just lightly. Still, I loved that she always wanted to do the right thing and I hated to see her suffer so much. =( Despite all her bravado she was just a human girl and it made me so sad when her brother finally realised that too! >_<

”It was too much. But there was no one else, so it couldn’t be too much. It had to be exactly enough. It had to be what she could handle, and she had to handle it.”

”Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”


”He’d regretted not riding alongside them ever since they���d come on the first full-moon night. When he refused them a second time, it nearly broke his heart. The third time he was helpless to resist the call. He went, and after, he feared he could not summon up the strength to resist them again.”

Oh what a precious bae! This poor boy really didn’t have it easy! I mean everyone in Fairfold knew he’s a changeling and to deal with that on a daily basis must have been so damn exhausting. I could understand his urge to be with his people and to escape his human life and I could also relate to him wanting to live that life nevertheless. Jack was living in both worlds and it was obvious that it tore him apart, especially when the people of his town began to blame him for everything that happened. To fight not only against the prejudices of the people in Fairfold BUT also against those of the Fair Folk hurt him more than he cared to admit and I really hope that he’ll get his “human life” at the side of Hazel! =) Heaven knows he deserves it! *lol*

”Your mom and I had a long talk about this last night,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, the whole town can burn; what we care about is you.”

”Let me have this time being human,” he said. “Over and over you tell me that I will never be mortal, that the span of one human life is so short as to mean nothing. Fine, then let me have my human life. Let all the mortals I love die and blow away to dust. Let me have Nia for a mother and Charles for a father and Carter for my brother. Let me be Jack Gordon, and when I am done, when all is dust and ashes, I will return to you and learn how to be your son.”


”I can’t change his nature, but I can give him the gift of our music. He will play music so sweet that no one will be able to think of anything else when they hear it, music that contains the magic of faerie. It will weight on him and it will change him and it will make him an artist, no matter what else he desires. Every child needs a tragedy to become truly interesting.”

My heart bled so much for Ben! What a burden to be so gifted but to be unable to understand it. To fight yourself each and every second of your life, because you have a power that scares you and is so unnatural that no one else is able to help you to deal with it. When I read about him breaking his hand on purpose I didn’t just wince but also almost physically ached. My poor musicians heart! You can kill people in books and I’ll cry you a river but hurt a musicians hands or his instrument and I’m completely devastated!!! The artist in me just can’t handle it. >_< I felt Ben’s pain like it was my own and boy, did it hurt!! Please Holly whatever you do, don’t hurt musician’s in your fairy tales. Such scenes make me feel completely out of my depth! *lol*

”Gifted, when he played a tune on a xylophone that made their babysitter weep. Gifted, his sister called him, when he charmed faeries in the woods and saved her life. (And doomed it, too, maybe.) But what he could do scared him. He couldn’t control it.”
”It has to stop,” he said. “I’ve got to stop. Somebody has to stop me.”

”We love until we do not. For us, love doesn’t fade gradually. It snaps like a branch bent too far.” To Ben, love was the flame in which he wanted to be reborn. He wanted to be remade by it.


”He was crushingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful.”

Severin! *sighs* I loved that faerie boy to bits and pieces!!! Despite his rather tense situation he was still so playful and fun and I found myself enjoying every single moment he was mentioned! XD The story of how he ended up in the glass coffin was such a typical fairy tale and I relished every second of it. *lol* I really wish I could say more about Severin but writing this review I realised that we actually didn’t get to see a lot of him. Even though he was the centre of the story, he actually didn’t appear all too much in it, which is kind of funny but also so damn sad because I really would have loved to get to know him better. >_<

”I had no idea how long a single day could be. I didn’t know that the span of a single mortal life would seem interminable as I lay unmoving in that case. I didn’t know.”

”Benjamin,” Severin said, his voice dropping low. His face was inhumanly beautiful, his eyes as cold as the sky above the clouds, where the atmosphere is too thin to breathe. “I have heard every word you’ve ever said to me. Every honeyed, silver-tongued word.”

The relationships & ships:

Hazel & Jack:

”So what do I wear?”
His eyes lit with wickedness. For the first time that day, something had amused him. “Anything you like or nothing at all.”

The chemistry between those two was so damn nice! Haha! I loved it when Jack showed his cheeky side and since Hazel is so badass she always knew how to handle him. XD (Even if she didn’t and got slightly insecure. *lol*) I think the revel they went to was one of the coolest things I ever read and I really want to go to one myself. =) I love the way they interacted with each other and I definitely ship them, I’m just really worried about how this is going to end. I mean yeah the book ended but we know that Hazel isn’t immortal and Jack is. So urgh��� I can imagine their future and it’s already breaking my heart. >_<

”My life has always been a powder keg waiting for a match.”
“Well, hello, match,” Hazel said, pointing to herself with both thumbs, but she smiled as she did it, hoping to take the sting out of the words.

”She hadn’t known how solid he’d feel. She couldn’t have guessed how he’d run his hand over her back, lazily, as if he didn’t know how to stop touching her, or how she’d shiver when he did.”

Hazel & Ben:

”Hazel never cried. She was forged from iron; she never broke. No one was tougher than his sister. The worst part was how quietly she wept, as if she’d taught herself how, as if she was so used to doing it that it had just become the way she cried.”

I loved the way the relationship of those two siblings was portrayed. It was so damn realistic and it was obvious that they were really close! They both tried to protect each other but in the end they eventually had to realise that they made a huge mistake by keeping their secrets to themselves. The most beautiful thing about them however, was that they trusted each other blindly. They both knew they had secrets from each other but that didn’t change anything about their trust and bond! And this, my goodreads friends, is so very rare and lovely! <3

”You and your sister are very dear to each other. To show your regard, you give each other lovely bouquets of lies.”

”She leaned across the bed and hugged him with all the strength in her limbs, hugged him until her bones ached. But no matter how hard she hugged him, she knew it would never be enough.”

Ben & Severin:

”What do you think you're doing, grabbing her like that?"
Severin slid a little closer, moving as lightly as a dancer. "Oh, you mean instead of grabbing you?"

HA!! I shipped them from the very first moment they spoke with each other! *lol* Those two were just too much fun to watch, Severin my poor broken and sentimental faerie prince and Ben my precious bean that was so insecure and damaged. I adored how they got closer and began to trust each other and if there is one thing I didn’t like about this book, then it certainly was the fact that they didn’t get as much room as I wanted them to. XD I know it was necessary for the storyline, but damn, I’d have loved to read more scenes with both of them. =)))

”I love you,” Severin said, looking up, looking at nothing at all, his face exultant. “I love you like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I’ve loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved that you made me want to laugh. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all.”

All told “The Darkest Part of the Forest” was a wonderful fairy tale that kept me reading even though I was supposed to stop. I severely suffered from the “Just one more chapter illnesss” and I enjoyed it so much that I can genuinely recommend it to everyone who likes dark faeries and a little bit of mystery. You won’t regret it! ;-)
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.4k followers
September 8, 2019
This book is about evil fairies and subverting genre expectations.


It took me a long time to figure out why, exactly, this book captivated me so much. Yes, it's definitely a solid read, but what made this a five-star-favorite-book-ever read? I think in the long run what stood out to me was how Holly Black sees the tropes of this story and avoids them. Ben and Hazel are essentially a role-reversal of typical fantasy heroes. The boy is the one in love with a fair prince in the woods, the girl is the lionheart fighting for their lives.

I also liked that The Darkest Part of the Forest is so... not heteronormative. I don't know how to describe it any better than that - Holly Black has this casual approach towards writing lgbtq characters that works perfectly. The entire world blends gender and sexuality binaries into this map that rings so true.

All that being said, you need to have proper expectations for her writing. Black writes characters and relationships that are fucked up and doesn't always care to tell the audience “hey, this isn't okay.” There's this vibe of evil, of hate, that she's not trying to get rid of.


Holly Black is very good at writing unlikeable protagonists, characters you somewhat despise and somewhat love. She risks making you hate her protagonists so that you'll love her protagonists and I love it.

The Darkest Part of the Forest has four main protagonists, two point of view characters and two somewhat-love-interests. I love all of them, of course. Black is very good at making you empathize with characters you feel as if you should dislike. Severin, for example, reads like he should be a villain. But the audience gets to decide whether he truly is.

Hazel, though, is especially my favorite. She does not fit into any boxes; she is both the warrior archetype and a complex subversion of the warrior archetype. I felt as if I had a feel for her twenty pages in, and I never did give up that love for her.

I also somewhat adore the way Holly Black writes relationships. She is this odd mix between a cynic and a hopeless romantic and her romance writing comes off exactly that way. Both romance plots here (I won't spoil with who!!) are understated but well-built all the same.

And of course, there's the emphasis on sibling bonds. Ben and Hazel's sibling relationship is intricate and interesting.


Holly Black's writing is incredibly tense. You constantly feel as if you have to figure out what happens next.

The environment is maybe one of my other favorite things about this book. Ben and Hazel's small town feels like another world, a claustrophobic hideaway cut off from all being. It makes a perfect setting, just eerie enough to make you feel on edge. She managed to make me feel small in comparison to this world, to this town, in a very visceral way. It's so engaging.

VERDICT: This is one of my favorites and I REALLY recommend it to everyone. If morally ambiguous fairies in an eerie setting subverting genre expectations sounds like your shit, you need to pick this up.

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Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
757 reviews2,299 followers
January 9, 2023
Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.

First time reading Holly Black and I'm not disappointed.
I was a bit skeptical at first because I heard her writing is similar to Cassandra Clare's, who I'm not really a fan of, but I'm glad to say the rumors were only and exactly rumors, and that Holly Black could give not only CC but a lot of authors a run for their money.
And not only for what it concerns her writing style, but for the originality, too.

This book is so wonderful and magical, it filled my heart with joy and hope and wonder.
I don't know how to explain it better, but it was like reading in colors.
I'm not really familiar with fairies and their legends, but I couldn't have chosen a better story to start from.
Everything from the writing and the characterization of the various characters made me feel like I was not just reading this book, but being part of it, as well.
I love Hazel and Ben Evans, they taught me so much in less than 300 pages. One with their music and the other with their courage, they made my heart skip beats. Their loyalty to one another is admirable, something most people would kill to achieve and that not everybody can have during an entire lifetime.
I also loved how their roles weren't stereotyped and, for one, it's the girl who kicks ass and saves the day, and the guy just let's her be because that's how it works in here.
Loved the romance, too. I mean, yeah, it was pretty cheesy (Severin, I'm looking at you, you old sap), but it was so cute I almost didn't notice the heavy postcard-like romance. And don't even let me start on how much I adore Jack Gordon. Holy Changeling, that boy deserves all the love a reader is capable of giving.

I'll definitely give HB another try, mostly as a confirmation and especially because this novel gave me the chance to finally get introduced to the magical and dangerous world of Fairy Folk, and now I happily have another thing to obsess over.

Anyway, I'm so glad I decided to read this book.
I feel like I'll be thinking about it for the next 300 years.
Bless you, Holly Black.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
695 reviews1,072 followers
February 7, 2019
4 magical faerie lore stars ⭐️

"Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives."

This was my first Holly Black book and I was not disappointed!
Hazel and Ben have lived in Fairfold all their lives, and as all the residents know, they share their town with the faerie folk. They take precautions, they know the rules, don't anger them, always bargain, and maybe you'll escape their tricks.
In the forest inside a glass coffin lies a faerie prince. He has been there for years, even back when Hazel and Ben's mum was young; and they are both in love with the idea of waking him up.

When the Prince is finally freed from his prison, all hell breaks loose. The Faeries aren't just being tricksters anymore - mortals are getting hurt, sometimes even killed. Hazel and Ben get involved to work out what is happening and why.

I loved all the magical Faerie lore that is explored throughout this novel, at times pretty damn dark, but it was so interesting. I liked the characters, Hazel and Ben, Jack the changeling, the mysterious Prince and all the Faerie Folk. The plot was complex, and kept my interest.

There was only 1 thing I didn't understand (unless I just missed it somewhere)

I liked Hazel's Also finding out who the monster was and what caused it to become that way, that was pretty cool.

Overall a fascinating fantasy world, I just needed a bit of clarification in places.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,399 reviews11.7k followers
August 23, 2019
At least I can marie kondo this book out of my house with no hesitation. I thought I might like it more due to my love for The Cruel Prince, but no. It’s as messy and underdone as I remember it. The ridiculous villain - ! And Black seems to write the exact same protagonist. Kaye is Hazel is Jude. Jude is by far the most successful version of this girl.

The only good thing about revising this old work is witnessing Holly Black to transition from grunge of Tithe to kale and thrift store hipster wokeness of The Darkest Part of the Forest to sexy pop of The Cruel Prince. I am only here for June and Cardan.

Original review
I loved quite a few things about this book - the setup, the fairy lore, the memory tricks, the whole "fairy-prince-sleeping-in-a-glass-coffin" idea. But the plot of this novel is objectively poor - so rushed, with everything crammed into the last third, with an underdeveloped conflict, a silly villain () and insta-romances. Black definitely had trouble plotting this story out, which was confirmed by her own "Acknowledgements" at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Beenish.
315 reviews335 followers
March 31, 2022
It turned out that no matter how far you fall, there's always a lower place.

What are Faeries?
While reading this book with my friends, (because after having the taste of buddy reading, I hardly ever read alone), my friend asked me this question. And I thought about it for a moment. The thing is, for me faeries were like fairies from Winx Club or from the W.i.t.c.h or like those pixies from Tinker Bell but even when I didn't know, I always wanted to know this side of them. Little did I know that these Faeries are mythical creatures known for their beauty on the surface and cruelty underneath. And when you pick a Holly Black book, that's exactly what you sign up for.

Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we’d be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?

And let me tell you this, she has written it in the finest way I've ever read and she's gotten me drunk on it.


Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin.

In that coffin, slept a boy with horns on his head and ears like an elf's. He's been sleeping for generations and people have been partying all around him but no matter what anyone did, he never woke up.

And ever since Ben and Hazel were kids, they've been visiting the boy in the coffin, telling stories they made and how they loved him.
But that's not all. That's not the strangest or weirdest thing. There are other stories like how humans and faeries live together with no set rules but enough knowledge to know how to keep them at a distance.
And yet, people make mistakes.

Once, there was a girl who found a sword in the woods.
Once, there was a girl who made a bargain with the Folk.[•••]
Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.

This a very short book and the little turns that this story takes are definitely worth reading without a hint.
Everyone who knows about faeries knows the basic rules like never making a bargain with them, and they all know how to protect themselves, they know faeries can't lie and they know faeries can trap them through their words alone but when it comes to actually facing them, do people remember all that they've learned growing up?

🎶 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
A nest of hair and gnawed bone
You are never, ever coming—

The people of Fairfold know that there's a monster in the darkest part of the forest but even though they live there, most people wave it away like just another story about the place they live in. But what happens when that monster comes out of the woods? This ↓

What happens when the boy in the coffin finally wakes up? What happens when things from as normal as they were, start to suddenly change?
Just read okay? It's a cute little magical world with all the charm you could find, and just a little terrible and a little frightening and a bit too cruel..

(before I get to the spoilery section, talking about the Characters)

Holly Black is my Queen of writing faeries with the strongest fairytale vibes ever. After reading The Dark Artifices , which is basically what really introduced me to faeries, I thought I couldn't ask for any better faeries written ever but I was wrong. I read The Cruel Prince and I was amazed to the point that even today I say, there's no coming back.
I reread that trilogy and I wanted more.
so, what was this book?
This book was like a little more of that faerie fruit and faerie wine that I craved and I'm more than satisfied with it.
Reading this book was like satisfying the addict (obviously, me) by giving them a little more drug. Well, that's what this book was for me. And I must admit that when the book went slow, I was afraid that I might be disappointed after all but I was SO NOT!
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a little taste of Holly Black's writing, and tempting but wicked faeries, and a light and lush fantasy book with romance in it. Read it and ...
be careful what you wish for

First of all, just how crazy the forest was? The path that made itself for you and the way you had to say the rhyme to enter the revel? That was like a magical tale you tell your kids as a bed time story but you alter the story because you can't frighten your kids by telling them what really happens at the revels.
Lords and ladies who walk unseen,
lords and ladies all in green,
three times I stamp upon the earth,
let me in, green hill that gave me birth.

And I absolutely loved how Hazel changed the last line to
“Let me in for the sake of mirth.”

Hazel, Hazel, blue of eye. Kissed the boys and made them cry.

I really liked Hazel a lot and her desire to be a Knight really reminded me of Jude. It's definitely not easy to survive with faeries whether you live in the human world or the Faerie realm. And it was very sad how their parents neglected her and her brother. I got so emotional when Ben thought,

Hazel never cried. She was forged from iron; she never broke. No one was tougher than his sister.

Really, she loved too hard. She loved her brother and she loved the horned boy and she loved Jack, but she mostly loved her adventures and thinking of being a Knight. This girl who kissed anybody suffered a lot and nobody cared. The memories she tried to blur in her head, she was forced to remember it all. It was just so, so sad. I was kind of surprised how I got so sad for a girl in only a such a short time. (Tbh, I just read 3 books on a girl who was the main character and I still don't feel a thing for her.—Alina from Shadow and Bone)
Hazel deserves another book! ✨✨

Anyone who offers up their heart on a silver platter deserves what they get.

Oh boy! I just LOVEEE him, okay. See? That easy to make me love characters. Just write well!!
I really liked him from the start though I didn't like the way he first kissed Hazel. I was a bit suspicious of him when he talked about warning 3 times but after that I liked him more and got curious about him and I really liked his behaviour towards Hazel and how sincere he was with the people he loved.
Yes, he was pulled towards the revels and his people and felt different there and liked it but that never made him choose all that above the family he grew up with and loved. When his mom told him not to come home, I felt so bad, I hated his mom.

I loved the scenes from when he took Hazel to the revel and afterwards when he told her he liked her. I loved the way he remembered everything Hazel went through and was there for her still.

“How do we start?” Hazel said.
He looked down at her, lashes dusting his cheek when he blinked. “Any way you like. We could hang out after school. We could write each other long letters. You could send me on some kind of quest to win your favor.”

It was sad and sweet when Hazel told him she keeps remembering stuff and that she wasn't normal and he said he didn't want normal. It felt good. Idk how long they'd last together or if Jack would develop more of a faerie nature as time passed or if he would keep loving Hazel like Sorrow loved the mortal guy, but I wish they stay happy and I wish we got more. ❤️

Every child needs a tragedy to become truly interesting.

I'll be honest. I was impatient reading about him and thought he was just a cry baby in the name of an older brother but I was SO WRONG. This boy was so nice!
He cared for his sister but just like her, he was going through things he didn't talk about. He was afraid of his music and losing control. He blamed himself too much, just like Hazel. When I read about him breaking his hand, I was just too shocked. The things fairfolk do to you. (Reminded me of Arthur Blackthorn from TDA) So much for a gift. :/ BUT, I really liked the idea of a story where the boy gets the prince charming and the girl who becomes a Knight saves everyone. It was different from the typical stories where the prince meets the girl and loves her and saves her. It felt good to read the story with this change.🥰

Forgive me. I grew up on my father’s boasting about the superiority of my people, and although I have listened to your kind for decades upon decades, it still hasn’t chased out all my worst habits of presumption.

Now, this is what faeries are like. Especially the royal ones. I really loved seeing how just by making Severin tell the story of his sister and "showing how different he is from what he used to be in action", Holly Black delivered a whole Character and he didn't seem incomplete at all. This book didn't only show the cruel side of faeries but also delivered how less faeries think of a mortal life. That's the magic of good writing. you just KNOW the character building is good when you read one book that gets you attached to the characters and you remember that you still don't care about the ones you spent time on, reading 3 books about. Okay, I wasn't attached to Severin but I understood him. And I like understanding the Characters I read about. And it really made me sad listening about the story he told of his sister. And it was a very sweet and sad moment when Ben used music to take her through grief to end it.
Anyway, I liked reading about Severin. It was amazing seeing his soft side towards Ben and how challenging he was to his father in the court. ✨

YES, I want more of all these characters, read all their stories because this one book just isn't enough, but for a standalone fantasy book, Holly Black did a fantastic job creating the world, the plot and the characters.


Just tell me this: HOW does Holly Black write such fascinating stories in the best YA way possible? Her beautiful faeries with the way they tempt and enchant and glamour along with being so cruel that you can't imagine, it's just so beautifully terrible.
That's not even the only best part.
Her characters can be lgbtq+ and it's not everrr a problem. It's always like they're normal people—which they are—and have more things going on in their life than just talking about their sexuality.
I love how she writes romance because I'm a hopeless romantic, duh. Romance is my favourite thing after fantasy and Holly Black gives me both.
And then comes her way of writing the sibling relationship. That's just . . . Freaking good! I love reading about friendships and supportive, loyal siblings.
This book is the best fairy tale ever! Like ever! After the Folk of the Air, of course.
Review to come :) but I have unanswered questions.
1. What was Ben doing when Hazel followed him? Still don't know.
2. What's up with Jack and his faerie mother? Also, he can't lie so what was that he said when Hazel thought he was buying her time in the court?
3. So, day time Hazel remembers nothing of the night she spent as a Knight but night time Hazel remembers all about the Day?
Pre read review.
A stand-alone fantasy book by the author of the The Cruel Prince? Oh, I'm in! Also, another story on Faeries AND humans together? I just can't wait to make time for this! Ohhh AND the book trailer for this one?? LOVED IT!!
Profile Image for toointofiction.
192 reviews150 followers
December 30, 2022
"Anyone who offers up their heart on a silver platter deserves what they get."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This review may contain some spoilers

In all honesty, I wasn't going into this with very high expectations. While Modern Faerie Tales was a very interesting series, it wasn't entirely Holly Black's best work. At least for some parts. Fortunately, this book had me hooked from page one and did not let go until the end.

Holy hell!! What an incredible thrill ride!!! I seriously loved every second of it. It has one of the most intriguing and well-thought-out plots I've read so far. I was completely blown away. Don't even get me started on the mind-melting plot twists. In fact, this was so well-written that it basically overshadowed equally incredible romances. Also, the fact that Fairfold knows all about faeries and how to deal with them. (That might've been my favourite part, actually 😆😆) Holly Black is truly a divine deity of literature. She definitely deserves the hype. Yet, despite her fame (and that of most of her other works), this book seems entirely overlooked in its genre. It has hardly any online presence which baffles me. Sure, the magnificence that is The Folk of the Air series takes up most of the spotlight for all its predecessors, but overlooking such an incredible standalone should be a crime. There's not even much fanart which is what's most sad about it.

Hazel was an absolute delight. A charming, badass heartbreaker with some serious secrets and awesome fighting skills. I bet she, Jude, and Val would be vibing so hard they'd become fast friends. (Don't mind me just manifesting 😝😝) She's such a complicated, authentic character, and very relatable. Let's not forget super-weird and a terrible decision-maker. My favourite things about her. Also, you gotta love a feisty redhead with awesome sword skills 😍😍 Her brother, Ben, was also really interesting. He's cursed with a magnificent talent for music and almost as badass as his little sister. I loved the relationship between the two siblings. They care so much about each other, despite their unstable dynamic, what with them falling for the same boy and all, yet they are still prepared to sacrifice anything and everything for each other. Soooo cuuuute, riiight?? 🤗🤗

As for the love interests, Jack, the changeling and Severin, the sleeping prince, while they didn't really make it into my infinite list of favourite fictional men, they were still very lovable and well-matched to their respective significant others. They both represent two different, yet equally appealing love interest tropes, the gentleman and the bad boy. I'm more of a bad boy kind of gal but I really liked the gentleman too. 😆😆 Also, both of them are charming in their own way. But what else would one expect from the fae? As I already mentioned, on top of an already incredible plot, there were two equally incredible romances. I couldn't possibly decide which one I liked the most. The chemistry, the dynamic, and especially the words had me swooning like a teenager. These kids know how to romance, despite believing otherwise.

Out of all of Holly Black's faerie prequels, this might just be my favourite
Profile Image for jaymiej.
144 reviews
January 24, 2023
4.25/5 ⭐
0/5 🌶️

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black is a standalone young adult fantasy about genuinely terrifying fairies, a cursed prince, and two brave siblings caught in the middle. Hazel and her brother Ben live in Farfold a town blessed and cursed by the fae. This story was great. It was good. Ben, Jack, and Severin were all really well developed characters. But they left me wanting more. I think I am in a mood. The story was great. . It was very magical, and mysterious, and romantic… but.. but yet...

I am a little disappointed that there was not enough love between Ben and Severin. I wanted more of this love story damn it. Not that tiny little nugget she gave us.

“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”

“The only way to end grief was to go through it.”

“Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill monsters and feel quite proud of themselves.”

“Her tragedy, if she had one, was to be as normal and average as any child ever born.”

“All boys lie," Ben said. "And all girls lie,too. I lie. You lie. Don't pretend you don't.”

“Maybe, Hazel decided, maybe they could both learn how. Not just making-up-stories-in-which-you're-happy happiness, but the real thing. She leaned across the bed and hugged him with all the strength in her limbs, hugged him until her bones ached. But no matter how hard she hugged him, she knew it would never be enough.
"I promise," she whispered. "I'll try.”
June 3, 2020

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I bought this when it was on sale a while back, right around the time that I had finished The Folk of the Air trilogy. Published in 2015, it kind of reads as a "proto-CRUEL PRINCE" with a heroine that's a lot like Jude and a hero who seems a bit like a nicer version of Cardan. It's a little different, though; it's written in third person, with a tone that makes it feel like it's for a younger audience. There are two romances, instead of just one main couple, and one of them is LGBT+ (M/M). I think the message is also different-- CRUEL PRINCE was primarily about love and power, and how those two things can come into conflict when pride enters the mix, but THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST is a story about growing up and living your dreams.

Ben and Hazel are siblings who live with their hands-off parents in a town called Fairfold that borders the lands of the fae. Its claim to fame is a fae boy who sleeps in a glass coffin. Tourists come to marvel at the supernatural goings-on and once in a while they go missing-- not that the townsfolk care. As long as none of their own get spirited away, they couldn't care less.

But soon things start to go wrong in Fairfold in a very real way. Townies start to become affected by various curses and some of them wind up dead. Ben and Hazel used to play at slaying monsters in the woods, but coming face to face with real monsters is a very different matter entirely. Especially when the glass casket shatters and the fae boy comes to life, and it becomes clear that he has some powerful and dangerous ties to the faerie court at their boarders that could mean grave danger for Ben and Hazel.

This story is very slow to start. It's well written and engaging and I loved the strong female heroine (although Jude was better). The romances were also decent, though they lacked passion until the end. If this was intended for a younger audience, that makes sense. We start to get some more decent scenes of romance as the story winds to a close, though. And honestly, both couples were okay. I liked some of the cameos from the Folk of the Air series, like Grimsen, Heartsworn, and Heartseeker. I'm curious how the timeline plays out, though-- it kind of seems like maybe this book takes place in the future of the Folk timeline, since it's mentioned that the Alderking stole Grimsen from court.

I can see why people didn't like this book but I enjoyed it quite a bit. The slow (maybe too slow) build-up, the scenes of derring-do, and the positive messages about finding your own sense of agency even if it means defying others were all pretty appealing. There's also diversity, with one of the main characters being biracial (iirc), and two characters coded as gay and bisexual. It all happens very naturally and nobody raises any eyebrows at it, and their sexuality isn't substituted for their character, which all made me very happy. Anyone who needs something to tide them over until Holly Black writes her Next Big Thing will probably really enjoy this, especially if they liked Folk of the Air.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Erica Ravenclaw.
334 reviews98 followers
January 9, 2015

No spoilers and colorful language abound! I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Normally I wouldn't review an ARC this early, but honestly, I cannot help myself.

**I am bumping this because I reviewed it entirely too early. It comes out on January 13th! Also, do you ever go back and read a review and say, "what the fuck was I even trying to say" ? Then feel an overwhelming urge to rewrite the entire thing? Yeah, so a little of that too.**

                      photo tFY0Txl_zpsa468400c.gif

I stood in line at BEA a good 40 minutes before the drop time, anxiously counting all the people in front of me, clinging to a desperate hope that there would be enough copies. There was some shoving, some light elbow nudging, a glazed over fog in the faces of the fans, all uniting in a singular objective: getting an ARC of this book. It was all worth it.

Confession time you guys, I am a Holly Black newbie, and with that comes all the glorious musings of a blogger who just discovered their new favorite author. The Darkest Part of the Forest hooked me from page one. I am a fan for life.

                           photo tumblr_m48agp1lFD1qa384zo1_500_zpsd8ed8a55.gif

Ben and Hazel Evans live in the town of Fairfold, where the line between human reality and the otherness of Faery blur, a town with a glass coffin housing a beautiful horned boy in eternal sleep. Mortals have long been enamored with the Fae, equal parts enchanting and dangerous but the townsfolk have an odd symbiotic relationship with the them. Locals  stay out of the woods on a full moon, they turn their socks inside out and stuff their pockets with iron and oatmeal, and in return the Fae leave them be. The tourists on the other hand are free game, that is until an 11 year old girl who fancies herself a knight, starts to fight back.

Hazel and Ben were raised by artists, forgetful parents who valued all-nighters with oil paints over dinner and a bath for their kids. They were wildly imaginative children, a knight and a balladeer, they were each others caretakers, until one day too many secrets piled up between them. Their imagined prince, the horned boy wakes from his sleep and they must finally say all the things they have been hiding from each other in order to protect him.

That's about all I'm going to say on the plot, this is a very character driven novel and I won't spoil you!

Holly Black's writing is both profoundly understated and eloquent beyond measure. The way she can pack a single sentence with tremendous emotion left me speechless and craving more. The world building of Fairfold was perfectly executed, "info dumping" transformed into gorgeous prose, I was enraptured from the very first page.

Something else really struck a chord with me and should be noted, in this story we have a young male gay character who is out, and not a single aspect of this is trivialized by some ignorant stereo type. Ben speaks of love and insecurity, he speaks of family and self evaluates, he is a wonderfully realized character with a rich sense of humanity. All too often "the gay guy" is coined as some cartoony mishmash of the exaggerated, a trite plot point rather than a complex and compelling character. Holly Black masterfully normalized his sexuality in a way I feel should be embraced by all.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is dazzlingly good with fanciful highs and dark lows. At the heart remains the love of a brother and sister united once more as a knight and balladeer. Nothing short of spectacular it transcends it's genre and hold it's rightful place with the best of the best

Profile Image for Lucy.
415 reviews610 followers
May 3, 2020

I love love love Holly Blacks ability to describe enchantment and magic in the fae world. She is also amazing at describing sinister faeries and their playful (often sadistic) games with humans. Her descriptions of settings and the different fae in this book were magical.

The issue I had to this book is that I didn’t really care for the characters. I also do not particularly enjoy books that are set in schools (excluding Hogwarts of course!). The plotting and the pacing of this book just didn’t entice me so it took me forever to finish this read as I couldn’t be bothered to keep picking it up.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
August 11, 2018
“Hazel, Hazel, blue of eye. Kissed the boys and made them cry.”

I hereby demand to have my own horned faerie prince. Someone tell me where to find his glass casket.

This was magical (duh). I loved it from start to finish. I think we all know (and Holly does, too) that Holly Black is pretty good™ at writing anything faerie-related. She is just as fascinated with their beauty, horror and wickedness as we are. Lots of times, when I finish a book, I think to myself that I should have read it sooner. This is also the case with TDPOTF. I adored how unapologetic Hazel was, how no one even thought of slut-shaming her for kissing whoever she liked. I also enjoyed - spoiler - the fact that the sleeping faerie prince fell in love with Hazel's brother, Ben. I would love to find out more about their future together and I heard they got a cameo in The Cruel Prince so my fingers are crossed.
The only thing I want to criticise is the mass scene at the end of the book. It's hard to keep track on a big cast of characters, especially when they all appear in the same scene, especially when it is the big finale and a great many things happen all at once. That is when it can get a bit messy and, therefore, slightly unrealistic. Overall I still enjoyed every aspect of the book and cannot wait to start The Cruel Prince.

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Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
336 reviews266 followers
November 16, 2019
A heroine who likes to kiss all the boys and kick serious evil faerie arse, persons of colour, GAY, no tropes, NOT a romance driven plot, NO love triangles, and a stand-alone all wrapped up into a lovely little YA gem. What more could we ask for?!!

This book ticks all the boxes of not your average, dull, tropey YA urban fantasy.

I was very pleasantly surprised! Especially since I found it unpredictable as well. It didn’t go how I expected it to go based on the synopsis and my experience with most, as in like 95% of YA books; instalove, obnoxious romance driven plots and love triangles.

As well, a standalone?!!! A YA standalone?!!! It was brilliant! It was so refreshing! Trilogies have become the norm in YA these days and that’s all fun and great and all but it gets old, it’s a long term relationship, you know? And sometimes you grow apart. Lots of times the magic fizzles out and you lose that special feeling the first book gave you....

So A+, Miss Black for this standalone because it’s just perfect just the way it is. Short and sweet and over. I’m satiated.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,376 reviews1,431 followers
March 26, 2017
The Darkest Part of the Forest is a delightful fairy tale and coming-of-age story about a girl who wants to be a knight and a boy who wants to be loved.

The fairies in the woods around Fairfold are not the playful, glitter-winged sprites of popular culture. These are dark and frighting creatures who lure unsuspecting travelers into their caves and ponds to gnaw their flesh from their bones. They sneak into the homes of Fairfold and exchange their fairy children for the human ones. They will enchant and destroy on a whim.

But, Hazel and Ben aren't afraid. Perhaps they should be.

I was charmed by this story. Holly Black has created a world that I want to step into despite its dangers. Highly recommended for young adults or the young at heart who are looking for a fantasy-filled escape from the real world.
Profile Image for Steysha.
109 reviews212 followers
October 23, 2014
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.
A nest of hair and gnawed bone.
You are never, ever coming…

Holly Black has done it again! She gives us dark, mysterious and scary story about a girl-knight, who swings a sword better than fairies, about her brother who has the gift to charm everyone with his music, and about a prince who is sleeping in a glass coffin in the middle of the forest. There are horns growing out of his head, and his face is of great beauty.

Sorry, but every time I think about his horns, I remember Daniel Radcliffe :D

Anyway, back to the point.

Fairfold was a strange place. Dead in the center of the Carling forest, the haunted forest, full of what Hazel’s grandfather called Greenies and what her mother called They Themselves or the Folk of the Air. In these woods, it wasn’t odd to see a black hare swimming in the creek or to spot a deer that became a sprinting girl in the blink of an eye.

Fairfold is a weird town. It’s full of fairies, magical creatures and monsters. Locals got accustomed to its eccentricities, and tourists come specifically to see the wild forest and try their luck with fairies. What if they can make their dreams come true? They should know better. Fairies of Fairfold aren’t known for kindness, and they won’t do anything for "thank you". People disappear, lose their minds, or their life passes in an instant. But this doesn’t happen with the residents of Fairfold, they’ve been living in peace with fairies for a long time. But that was before.

In the depths of the forest lies a glass coffin with a boy with horns. He has pointed ears and an inhuman beauty. He is immersed in eternal sleep, and no one was able to wake him up yet. He became a tourist attraction; they were coming from all over the world to see this miracle. For residents of Fairfold, he’s a favorite topic. All of them have some feelings for him, for he is their inspiration. They tell him their deepest secrets and share their feelings. But our heroes like him more that anyone.

Hazel and Ben have always been off-the-wall -- as far as it’s possible in a town like Fairfold. In their youth, their parents were irresponsible and liked partying, not caring about their hungry children. Therefore, they found a fun way to pass the time. The kids liked to imagine themselves as heroes, saving stupid people from creepy monsters, lurking in the woods. Ben could conjure any beast with his music, and Hazel had known from her childhood - she is destined to become a knight. Children became a nightmare of forest creatures. In their fantasies, they saw themselves as knights and faithful servants of the boy with horns -- their prince.

Of running all the way to where the horned boy slept, singing songs and making up stories about him all afternoon, only coming home at night, exhausted, wild animals returning to a den.
They saw themselves as children of the forest, creeping around pools and hiding in the hollows of dead trees.

But the older they grew, the more dangerous became their entertainment. One day, after another hunt for monsters that almost resulted in Hazel`s death, Ben refused to play in knights anymore. He believed that his musical skills were not high enough to protect them. Hazel, in desperation, made a deal with fairies to help her brother and promised to pay seven years of her life. But how? Maybe she's just going to die prematurely? Or she will be taken to the fairies, where time goes faster, and her life will fly by unnoticed? Oh, none of her theories could prepare her for the truth.

Now the kids became teens and stopped playing knights. Hazel grew a young woman, who breaks hearts and kisses with strangers at parties. Ben struggles to find his love and to stop playing music. And all would have been good if it were not for the terrible events in Fairfold. Fairies started to attack. The worst forest monster went into town and made people so sad, that they could literary die from sorrow. The boy with horns... woke up.

Then Hazel gets the message that it's time to pay her debts, her sword gets lost, and in the morning she wakes up with dirty feet and leaves in her hair - with absolutely no recollection of the previous night. Ben and his sister decide to look for their prince – to become knights again - but the boy they find is not the boy from their tales. At the same time, their best friend, Jack - who is a changeling, taken into a human family - starts to behave strangely and gets close with his people - and I'm not talking about human people.
Will the guys save the town from the monster? Will they solve the mystery of the horned boy and find their calling? Believe me, you want to find out about this!

The story goes, basically, from Hazel`s POV, but sometimes we can read on behalf of Ben and Jack. The word that comes to mind when I think about this girl is «badass». She is fearless, smart, weird and faithful. Most of all I liked to read the chapters about her childhood. I could imagine this wild child, wandering barefoot through the woods with a sword in her hand and with red lips from berry juice. Being a knight, her defining feature is courage. In those moments when I would do something like this:

She would go like this:

The book has a gay couple, Ben and... I won`t tell :) And the romance between Hazel and... I won`t tell :)
But it is these love stories that seemed out of place to me. They were boring and added nothing to the story. I did not feel the chemistry between the characters. But I loved the relationship between siblings; they were like Hansel and Gretel.

What in this book deserves the highest praise is a writing style! I swear, it was the best that I’ve seen this year. I fell in love with it from the first page. The story was very atmospheric and reminded of the classic tale. Thanks to the detailed descriptions, I could easily imagine a wild forest with monsters, lurking in the shadows, waiting for their prey. Hell, I even dreamed about coming to this town, despite the fact that all the tourists suffer from fairies’ tricks.

They are twilight creatures, beings of dawn and dusk, of standing between one thing and another, of not quite and almost, of borderlands and shadows.

So why did I rate it with three stars? The plot, guys. The plot. Firstly, it was very chaotic. In the beginning we read the chapters about the children’s past and present. And if at first I wondered why this prehistory is so vague and long, then later I realized that it was the best part of the book. Well, I also liked the ending. By the middle of the book, the storyline began to emerge, but it seemed poor in comparison with such an elegant and atmospheric writing. For example, the horned prince, he had so much potential! But, in the end, his character remained unsolved and quite banal, and only his horns were memorable. The monster had the same situation; it started smartly, scenes with him were plush and truly frightening - but his problem was so easily solved, that was somehow boring. IMHO, the plot needed to be more epic and dynamic. As I said, the ending was also good, but it can not be compared to the beginning, where there was no plot, only the fantastic atmosphere.

Overall, this is a great fairytale, written in style of the Grimm Brothers. I recommend it to those who, like me, loves to read about the dark forests full of monsters. And to those who liked Beware the Wild

Once, there was a girl who found a sword in the woods.
Once, there was a girl who made a bargain with the Folk.
Once, there was a girl who’d been a knight in the service of a monster.
Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.
Once, there was a girl…

*This beautiful fan art was made by my dear friend geborn-zu-sterben
Profile Image for Puck.
644 reviews298 followers
February 7, 2017
An amazing fantasy stand-alone about genuinely terrifying fairies, a cursed prince, and two brave siblings caught in the middle.

I’ve had my eye on this book for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally read it because The Darkest Part of the Forest was absolutely magical, creative, and so beautifully written. Holly Black’s writing style is captivating and dreamy and twisted; and although this story takes place in the real world, it feels like you are reading an old fairy-tale, which fits this book very well.

The siblings Hazel and Ben live in a small town called Fairfolk, a city surrounded by a haunted forest full of Fairy Folk. In that forest stands a glass coffin, in which lies a sleeping, beautiful boy with horns on his head. The boy has been asleep for centuries, and although Hazel and Ben once dreamed of saving him when they were younger, things are different now.
Both teenagers are hiding huge secrets for each other, but when one day the boy is freed and wicked fairies start crossing the forest borders into the human city, it’s up to them to trust each other and save Fairfold.

Once, there was a girl who made a bargain with the Folk. She vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forget herself.
Things didn’t end well.

I love Hazel and Ben, not only as main characters but also as siblings. One of my all-time-favourite shows is Gravity Falls and one of the central points of that show are sibling relationships, and likewise the bond between Hazel and Ben plays an important role in this book. No matter how different they are in character – Hazel is the daring, outspoken one while older brother Ben is more calm and hesitant – they support each other 100% (even going so far as to make a…very shadowy bargain with the Folk to keep the other’s dream alive).

The Fae are another element of this book that I loved. You’ll find no sweet, kind-hearted creatures in this book: the fairies are all manic and fierce and known for luring foolish people to their death. Yet this doesn’t stop the citizens of Fairfolk from throwing parties around the glass coffin, and raising a changeling child as their own. This mix of reality with fairy-elements, of unrelenting human spirit against wicked fairy magic, gives this book such an exciting atmosphere and inspiring power.

My only complaint is that Black left a lot of her plot-lines half finished or not fleshed out enough (for example, Severin wasn’t nearly enough in the story). However, the mystery of Fairfolk is very intriguing, the (LGBT!) romance in the novel is very cute, and overall this is a very enchanting story. 4 stars
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
November 10, 2017
I enjoyed this but I definitely think I will forget about it in a couple days ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,153 reviews1,513 followers
July 4, 2018
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black is a standalone young adult fantasy read that takes place in a world just like ours only there are fae living among the humans. Now this one is on the darker side as these fairies are not the sparkly nice kind but the dark and creepy version.

Hazel and Ben are a brother and sister who live in Fairfold, a city in which the humans live alongside the Fae. In the woods there is a glass coffin with a faerie boy that has been there for years and years that Hazel and Ben have both fallen in love with. The siblings have spent their childhood playing make believe which includes their faerie prince from the woods but one day that boy wakes from his coffin and the games the two played become alarmingly real.

The story in The Darkest Part of the Forest really starts off a bit slow as it introduces the characters and the world. Holly Black however does a great job giving life to her vision in the book. I couldn’t help but enjoy the way she’s weaved a fantasy tale into our world with mentions of things like Youtube and McDonald’s that everyone knows bringing the story into this time.

There’s also a lot of diversity in the book but it’s done in a way that doesn’t scream hey look at my attempt at diversity like some books tend to do. The characters are who they are and go about their story as if nothing is out of the ordinary which is how it should be in the world.

As for the fantasy side, this was a fun read but I’m not sure I’d say it’s overly original in a lot of the happenings. The idea of making deals with the Fae and finding you get more than you bargain for is not a new one along with simply the darker versions of the creatures. But the characters and setting make the story a fun one to read and once the action got going a little quicker I really enjoyed it.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Sean Sparks.
9 reviews20 followers
May 11, 2020
I stumbled across this book while searching for something to read on Overdrive. I am hesitant to pick books at random, as I am somewhat picky about what I read (don’t like to waste my time). After the first few pages as I got accustomed to the cadence and flow of the prose, I found that this land of fae bewitched me and I wasn’t able to put it down!

Set in a town between fae and the human world, the emotions are real and the fae are richly developed. The story is full of excitement and pain and I was immediately hooked!

After I finished the book (which was way too short by the way), I immediately googled the author and she turned out to be the famous Holly Black! I still wonder that I should have been so secluded to have not known or came across this author before...

With one book, she has become one of my favorite authors, and I look forward to reading her other tales as well. I highly recommend delving into this magical world and finding out for yourself the magic of the fae!
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