Review #137 // The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Ben and Hazel have grown up in Fairfold, and never thought anything different about the way their town was, not for a while at least. Fairfold is a town in which human and fae live side by side, with a Horned Boy in a glass coffin in the center of it all. Until, one day, the coffin breaks.

Why this book?: I was trying out audiobooks and decided on this one because a few friends said it was underrated. I’d heard of Holly Black before, so I was intrigued.

I have to admit that there was a point, about an hour into the book, that I nearly DNF’d it. It was so heteronormative, so stereotypical, so boring, that I honestly wasn’t in the mood to power through this one. There was one point, in the beginning, where the protagonist, Hazel, literally said “I wanted to kiss him so hard that [everyone else] would be amazed at his powers of attraction”. I was honestly so flabbergasted by this statement that I turned off the audiobook, and cackled. Who says stuff like that?

Eventually, though, there was a shift. Hazel may have been straight as straight can be, but her brother, Ben? The gayest. I thought he was just that token gay character that authors sometimes include for diversity points, but as his part in the narrative increased, I realized that there was something more to his part in the story. So, for everyone unsure if they should continue with how heterosexual the beginning of the book is–stick it out. It gets worth it.

The actual story, though, was a little disappointing. It was unique, after a little while, but that didn’t stop me from being a little “meh” by the time the action started. The boredom was worth it for me, to see the ending, but it may not be worth it for others.

And not to pick on the narrator or anything, but wow were they annoying. I loved the emotion that they put into the story, it felt more like a fairy tale telling because of it. But, with more than half the characters being male . . . it was almost difficult to listen to. The narrator made their voice all raspy (especially so for the Horned Boy!) and the only ones without raspy voices were the three ? ish ? female characters. It was driving me absolute bonkers.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆


I liked it! The story was heteronormative and stereotypical at first, but it slowly got more unique, and more gay. It was hilarious.

Would I Recommend?

As my friend Elise says, it is literal heterobaiting, so yes. Gay fae is the best kind of fae, and the only kind I care about.

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Additional Information:

Published: January 13th, 2015

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Page Count: 336

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Synopsis: via Goodreads

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?

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