The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black was first published by Little Brown Book in January 2015. It is a dark mystery fairy tale for young adults that discovers a new type of magic and folk. You can watch the trailer for the book in authors website here. It is one of her many books, she is a bestselling author with a very successful career and hopefully many books to come. This was the first book I read by her and although I did not like it, I feel that she definitely has potential and probably at least one of her books will conquer my love.
This story is about Hazel and Ben who have lived in Fairfold most of their lives, they are best friends and do many things together, but still hold so many secrets from each other. They both know how to protect themselves from the faerie folk, who are treacherous and deadly and like most of the town – have learned to live with them. But there comes a day that Hazel wakes up all aching. The horned boy who’s been the main tourist attraction in the town, has disappeared. The boy seems to be a reason for a war to start between the town and the faerie folk. Hazel and Ben knows that they have to find the horned boy as well as the one who freed him in order to save whatever they can save.
I picked this book up, loved, loved, loved the cover and was really excited, I read the start and got the first surge of adrenaline and stress, and just wanted to continue reading, but unfortunately the continuation wasn’t as amazing as the first impression. I was really, really sad that I didn’t like The Darkest Part of The Forest. And I will try to put in words why I didn’t.
The book was set in modern days, at least it seemed so to me because they were using Apple devices in the book, but the chapters in the story were jumping a bit in time. We would jump from today to a past event that seemed to be important or might give us a piece of information to get to know characters, but unfortunately I disliked this jumping. Mostly the past scenes were for information and not adventure, but once your heart is pounding from the stress you just had in present, it is very disappointing to go to past to sit around and just learn like in a boring lesson at school. There was just one mystery in the book that made me turn pages and it was at the very beginning which made me dislike the rest of the book even more.
The writing wasn’t bad, but sometimes got a bit repetitive, meaning that some words or a combination of words were repeated and it tired me out by the end and my eyes just wanted to glide over the sentences. There were many descriptions of how things looked or how events unfolded and the descriptions weren’t very fun, sometimes even looks that were very similar to what we have encountered before, were repeated. And I have already said before that some scenes are just not interesting to read, for example – fights.
It seemed like author was trying a lot to make us know the main characters, she described the past events, their choices and thoughts, and feelings, but still at the end of the book, I didn’t feel much like I would know Ben or Hazel, they still seemed a mystery to me. I sometimes felt like I got their main characteristics, but then they would just do something that seemed to not match their nature. And the decision making. There were so many bad decisions made that didn’t really make sense – the characters even explained their reasoning in the book and it still didn’t make sense to me. No wonder they found out that it was the wrong course of action later in the book.
I had some trouble with Sorrow as well. I understand her story and how it all goes, but I don’t understand why she shows up in school and Gordon’s house. If she was sent there, then why? It doesn’t make sense, if she is trying to get to Hazel, because the Alderking could do that any time he wants. Did he think that the horned boy is going to be there? Why would he think so? Did someone sing the song til the end?
Magic is hard to describe, because literature has set some high standards about describing magic people, their history, skills. Developing a new race or type of an existing one is a challenge and doing it good can be the biggest chunk of a success already. It’s hard to comment on how good Holly Black did it, because it wasn’t finished. We didn’t find out much about their past, so the reader just has to accept everything as it is and that shouldn’t be a problem, unless we are talking about weaknesses or how magic works, or how many are there, or why they are there. The characters of the book know how to protect themselves from the faerie folk, they know that salt, berries and oats and what else will work and that it will not allow them to touch the regular people, but I had a huge problem with never finding out why exactly these items where the ones that would repel magic creatures. I mean, did some God curse them while eating a salted berry porridge with a pinch of nails while his socks were turned out? Because the things were completely out of place, there was no story for them and if you put them together, they just didn’t seem to have anything in common. It wouldn’t have been so disturbing, if this protection wouldn’t be repeated so many times in this book, but it was, oh it was.
Jack doing magic was the other unsettling thing, because he didn’t seem to be going to Hogwarts in his free time, how did he know how to do it? Did his mother teach him that? If so, why was it never mentioned?
There were also some interesting aspects about how magic works, for example how blood summons blood and other things… as well as there were other holes.
I was very sad that I didn’t like it, I was prepared to love it. I don’t even know, if it would be improved with all the things I mentioned, if that would be enough for me to like it. And because of that this book received two stars out of five on my goodreads page. I feel like it should be a children’s book because children don’t care about mistakes and just enjoy the story, but honestly it is too frightful and full of terrible things that would give them nightmares. So I guess young adult it is.
What did you think of the book? How did you feel about Ben and Severin at the very end? Let me know at the comment section below.