Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA/fantasy/romance
Date Read: 18/03/2015 – 21/03/2015
Rating: ★★☆


darkestpartI had really high hopes for this book. The cover blurb made it sound really exciting, and while the reviews were certainly mixed, I was sure that it would be something I would really like. After all, Holly Black clearly knows her fey, and I love my fey, and this certainly sounded like it would be an interesting and fresh take on the fey, but… it all fell a bit flat. There were some moments when I was enjoying the book, and others were I was just really bored.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is set in the small town of Fairfold. There fey leave the Fairfold residents alone, though tourists are fair game. If the fey attack a local, he must have been acting like a tourist. In the darkest part of the forest is a glass coffin, in which lies a beautiful boy with horns and pointed ears. He has been there for generations, and never woken up. Until one day… he does.

The most difficult thing about this book was the pacing. There were a lot of flashbacks to establish important moments in the main characters’ lives, but it slowed down the plot a lot. And while the language used was often crafted quite beautifully, everything was written in such a way that it all seemed to move quite slowly and undramatically, even when something important was happening.

The central characters in the book are sixteen-year-old Hazel and her brother Ben. When they were younger they used to pretend to be knights and hunt nasty fairies. They were also both in love with the horned boy in the coffin. They both harboured fantasies about being the one to wake him. I liked both Ben and Hazel as characters in their own right, and they had interesting character arcs, but neither seemed to go through any enormous amount of development throughout the story. The horned boy isn’t hugely interesting either; given how much of a deal is made of him in the blurb, I expected him to be more of a central player.

I have heard that Holly Black can be a mixed bag, that she writes in very different styles and therefore not everyone likes the same parts of her work. I know she’s got quite the catalogue, so at some point, perhaps I’ll check out some of her other work. But this was certainly a disappointing introduction to her work.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

  1. Lara McGill says:

    Hi Emily. I agree about Holly – I think I have one of her books, but it’s in storage, and I couldn’t tell you anything about it.

    Question: Have you signed up for the April version of Camp Nano yet? If you have, and you’d like to join my cabin, please let me know what your name is, and I’ll send you an invite. So far it’s just me and my writing partner, and we’re both spending this time doing the bibles for your respective worlds/universes. It would be really nice if you decided to join us – especially since you’re doing the same thing!

    Enjoy your day.


      • Emily Witt says:

        I was originally spaciireth here on the blog and on Twitter, but I changed it a couple of years ago to fit more with the theme. It’s been my standard Internet handle for about 10 years, so it pops up in a lot of places around the Internet.

        Awesome! I look forward to the invitation.


  2. Lara McGill says:

    Since our cabin is private, and my other cabin mate set it up, I think it has to come through her. She’ll be home from work soon, and we’ll get it worked out and send you an invite!


  3. L. Marie says:

    Thanks for this honest review. I think the issue with this book is the fact that she has about three books out within a year. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was released months before this.


  4. Celine Jeanjean says:

    That’s a shame about the book being a bit slow – I agree the cover is gorgeous, and the story sounds quite intriguing. Maybe as L.Marie points out the issue is with her getting out books too quickly to take proper care over each one, which is a shame!


    • Emily Witt says:

      Everything made me so hopeful in the lead-up! But it’s a shame if the focus (either hers or, perhaps more likely, her publishers) is quantity over quality and that’s what’s affecting it.


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