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.