Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Print ARC – borrowed
Publication Date: January 13th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 3rd person & Alternative
Genres & Themes: YA, Paranormal, Fairies, Romance, Mystery.


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?


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

*Holly Black has written a considerable amount of books, but this is the first novel by her that I have read. Not that I was not interested in the others: I am simply always too excited by new releases. While wondering what great reads 2015 would bring us, I found this and immediately felt pulled toward it.

The book started with a fairytale-like atmosphere. I thought the storytelling was delightful and only wished to read more and more. Admittedly, it is, along with the world-building, what held my interest at first, really, for the main character did not manifest the type of personality I generally enjoy reading about. We had very little in common. For instance, she attended parties, kissed boy after boy and that with no real remorse or noticeable emotions after breaking their heart.

Townsfolk knew to fear the monster coiled in the heart of the forest, who lured tourists with a cry that sounded like a woman weeping. Its fingers were sticks, its hair moss. It fed on sorrow and sowed corruption. You could lure it out with a singsong chant.

After, halfway through my read, I noticed a change in the ambience. Creepiness showed itself in the plot, through new characters and along with the turn of events; the prince had awoken and the city of Fairlord crept with wariness. It is since that moment that the plot upped in strangeness and…originality. I have no clue why it is the author chose to withhold the prince’s arisen for so long. Perhaps to possess more than enough time to include memories and solid background for our two main characters, Hazel and Ben? It was a wise thing to do, since it did make me understand both of their actions more – especially Ben whose tendency to go on date after date was worth questioning myself on what had unclenched it – but the limit was exceeded a little. It dragged.

Sometimes Ben told stories about how he would free the prince, with three magic words—words he’d never say out loud in front of Hazel. And in those stories, the prince was always villainous. Ben had to stop him before he destroyed Fairfold—and Ben did, through the power of love.

I had no idea there was going to be a gay main character in this standalone. It is not shelved as ‘LGBT’ but it should be, because it was an important part of the story. It may not have been a theme that shaded the importance of the others, but a theme nonetheless. I must say that, having read quite a few LGBT books and M/M romances in the past, I was not one hundred percent convinced regarding the two gay character’s (Ben + to-discover) love for each other, especially Ben’s. It very much felt like insta-love even though they technically knew each other for a long long time. But I must admit that it mostly was due to Ben’s easiness at falling in love that kept me from swoon-writhingly shipping the couple. Their shyness toward one another was
sweet, but nothing more. Still, I am, most of the time, cheery when LGBT is included in a story, so I’m glad it was. Surely, Holly Black could come to master the genre, if only she would explore it in more detail.

While it did not impress me in any way, it was still an interesting enough and remotely mystical read, filled with fairies and magic. And in which the strong bond a brother and sister can share was present and beautiful.

*I just remembered having read one of hers in the past: The Iron Trial, a book she has co-written with Cassandra Clare. Yet, somehow, it slipped off my mind when writing the review.


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

  1. I didn’t pay attention that it was a book by Holly Black. I heard great things by this author but I haven’t read a book from her for now. I should try. I’m sorry it wasn’t as good as you thought even if in the whole it’s good too. Thanks for the review!


  2. I loved Holly Black’s Curse Workers, but her other offerings have disappointed me a little. Hopefully they’ll get this in my local library when it comes out, so I can give it a shot. It was great to read your review!


  3. I’ve never read anything by Holly Black. To be fairly honest, I’ve never been that interested by her work. However, you review made me change my opinion. The Darkest Part Of The Forest seems like an intriguing book with an interesting worldbuilding. And I actually like Hazel’s type of personality, even though it’s nothing like mine. Lovely review!


  4. The only book I’ve read by Holly Black was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and I really enjoyed it so I was pretty much excited about this book when I knew about it back in summer and even though it was one I was highly anticipating, I don’t know why in the last couple of weeks I’ve lost interest and I’m not sure I wanna buy and read it :/
    I do love fairies because not a lot of books are about them, and in some are not even main characters but they are so obscure and weird creatures. I’m still deciding about what to do but thank you for your review Lola 🙂


    • I think maybe you could borrow it? Because, personally, I wouldn’t buy it 😛 Or just the ebook lol. It was good but could have been so much better. Oh, I really want to read that other book by HB!!! And her ”Curse Workers” series! Thank you! 🙂


  5. I am glad you liked this but I was really hoping it would be a mind blowing read and so far it doesn’ t look like it has been for most readers.

    Wonderful review! It can be so hard to review these type of books.


  6. This was my first Holly Black read as well Lola, and it was odd and dark but yet captivating as well. I’m with you on Ben’s romance though, I would have liked a bit more development there as well, especially because there was such potential! Really fabulous review:)


  7. I agree that any book that falls under the LGBT umbrella should be labelled as such because that it an important tidbit for readers to know going in. I haven’t much experience with this genre, however given that you do, and struggled with that aspect of this story doesn’t bode well for me. I think I’ll look elsewhere for my first Holly Black novel.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads


    • Maybe you could try ”The Coldest Girl in Town” or the ”Curse Workers.” Heard great things about those. And will read them eventually 😀 It wasn’t labelled as LGBT but I realized that it is implied in the synopsis. So there’s that, at least 😛


  8. I have yet to read a Holly Black officially (I read one in middle grade and it scarred me for life), and so I’m kind of tempted to read this one just like said, because it’s a new release. It sounds interesting enough, but it also sounds just meh. I think I’ll pick it up if I see it in the library though 🙂 Awesome review Lola!


  9. I am reading this one – halfway through -, and can’t find it in myself to care. Not for your reasons bc I totally LOVE that type of characters. But I feel like despite the history and quirks and personalities, they don’t jump off of the page which is what I expect from Holly Black novels. Did you experience something similar?

    ALSO YOU HAVENT WHY WHYWHWYWHY! Okay, my advice don’t go for Tithe. You WILL hate it. Same for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which I loved but think you won’t like). BUT DO READ CURSE WORKERS. IT IS WHY GOD CREATED US AND HOLLY BLACK, trufax.


    • They don’t jump off the page indeed and that’s why for half of the book I felt like it was a ”fairy tale retelling” because that’s how I feel about those books usally; they’re nice and all but not ”three dimensional.”

      hahaha, but there may be exceptions. Maybe there are books out there that I will actually like 😛 I like to keep my mind open because BOOKS and if I don’t like it then I don’t like it haha


  10. I haven’t read anything by Holly Black either and I definitely want to. I saw this book and was immediatelyw intrigued, and now even more so after reading your review. I love me some LGBT, so because of that alone, I’l be picking this up. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  11. The main character doesn’t sound a lot like my kind of person either. Sounds like it was a good book, but I wish it had started quicker. That’s too bad about Ben’s romance too. Sometimes I just don’t feel it either.

    I haven’t read many of her books either. I just ordered the Curse Workers trilogy though. 🙂


  12. Wow, I have seen how many reviews for this book and yet none seem to have mentioned the main character being gay >< I guess they never saw it as important enough to mention? Anyways, I have not read a Holly Black book before and hopefully will be able to try this one! I need to read one of hers. 😀 I think the idea of delightful writing styles and brilliant world building pulls me in…


  13. Pingback: Best Young Adult Books with Mild LGBT Themes | Hit or Miss Books

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