The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

“…a creature loped from the woods..It had a pale body and crept on all fours, with claws as long as one of her fingers. It was pink around the eyes and around its too-wide mouth, which was filled with jagged, shark like teeth.” (Black, p. 40).

Faeries have always been cute, spritely creatures of  happy tales. But, what if faeries were terrifying, evil creatures? The Darkest Part of the Forest will show you a side of faeries you never knew existed. This is a faerie tale with a dark twist.

The Plot: Fairfold isn’t your average tourist town. Tourists are attracted here because of the mischievous rumors of evil faeries, and an enchanting, horned, male sleeping beauty. Growing up in Fairfold, siblings Hazel and Ben have heard all the tales. They have seen what the faeries can do to unsuspecting tourists. They’ve even fought a few faeries themselves. They have grown up, like the rest of the town, admiring the sleeping faerie boy in the glass coffin, telling him secrets, wishing and make believing that he would wake up. But what happens when he finally awakes? “The Folk” as they are called, have always left the locals alone, only preying on annoying tourists. But when the horned boy stirs, dark things start happening to the people of Fairfold.

“Every year, some of those tourists disappeared. Some got dragged down into Wight Lake by water hags…Some would be found strung upside down in trees, bled out and chewed upon.” (Black, p. 27).

The Darkest Part of the Forest drew me in with its promise of faeries, magic, and an enchanting horned boy. It kept me engrossed with its darkness, and faerie-tale like qualities. It was imaginative and creative. I love how the author took a creature we have all grown to love and admire, and turned it in to something fearsome and mischievous. I feel like she drew much inspiration from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. This is a must read for fans of The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arnsdale (even though this one was published before) and the television show, Grimm. Holly Black seems to have also drawn inspiration from Maleficient and Sleeping Beauty. With that in mind, The Darkest Part of the Forest is a dark, twisted faerie-tale in its own right with very interesting characters.

“Down a path worn in to the woods…was a glass coffin…and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.” (Black, p. 1).

Our heroine of the story is Hazel Evans. She is a daring dreamer. Though she is younger, she is the protective sibling. As a child she was always after adventure. She dreamed of being a knight and saving the people of Fairfold from the evil faeries.

“…she signed up for self defense classes…practiced techniques she learned from YouTube videos of sword fighting.” (Black, p. 77-78).

Sibling, Ben, is an intriguing character. He is cautious and cool, but enjoys the lure of fantasy and faerie-tale. He harnesses a very special musical talent, given to him by a mischievous faerie woman. Though he could do creative things with his talent, he is terrified of it and tried to give it up years ago.

“Gifted, they’d called Ben, since the elf woman touched his brow…” (Black, p. 74).

Jack is our most interesting character. Though I wish he had had a little more development. Jack is actually one of the faeries. He is a changeling, raised by a human family. He is both handsome, and mysterious. He seems like a normal human until dark things begin to happen to the locals of Fairfold.

“Jack sounded like one of them–and not at all like himself.” (Black, p. 62).

I really enjoyed this book and feel like its a new, dark faerie-tale to hold on to. The story was enchanting and the invention of evil faeries intrigued me. My only complaints are that the characters could have been developed slightly more, and I disliked that Hazel seemed to be so “boy crazy”.

“And elsewhere in the woods, there is another party, one taking place inside a hollow hill, full of night-blooming flowers.” (Black, p. 324).

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