I went into this book with no clue what it was about. The cover was pretty and I knew it was an urban fantasy standalone. That was literally it. So I had no baggage when it came to this novel and I think my enjoyment of the story really benefited from that.
It’s hard for me to sum up why I liked The Darkest Part of the Forest. However, the moment that I closed the book I was filled with the feeling of how much I wanted to dive back into the story. It’s not something I often feel, but I just wanted more of the world and the ability to experience it all again. So many books I like, never fill me with that feeling. Sure, I may know that I’ll re-read some of those books, but this one made me want to.
The Darkest Part of The Forest follows Hazel and to a lesser extent her brother Ben. Both of which who went to see the boy with horns that laid in a glass case just inside the edges of the forest that borders their town. You see their town isn’t quite a normal one, but one that is completely aware that there are fae in their forest. And while tourists who come to down often end up dead thanks to fae mischief, the residents are left alone, until the boy in the glass awakes.
The journey that we take with Hazel and her brother as we learn about this place and the goings on is fantastic. I felt like the characters felt like real people. They weren’t overly brave or overly exaggerated in anyway. I could even see how some people might find them boring at times, but they were real people with problems and desires and I loved it.
There are a couple of relationships in this book and they both evolve rather wonderfully. In one case one feels a bit more rushed than the other, but when you really think about it, it wasn’t. It simply wasn’t traditional. The other major relationship had me smiling and squealing in ways that I haven’t done in a little bit.
I just wanted to take a moment to mention Jack. Jack is Fae, but raised by humans. His story and evolution in the story was probably the most interesting to me. The way he handled things and looked at the world proved to be captivating and constantly in flux. Yet, you could always see how good of a heart he had. I truly came to love his character deeply. What made me enjoy this even more was that he was a changling and adopted the look of who came to be his twin brother. A part of a family who happened to be black. It was really nice to see that Jack was a solid love interest and was black. It is something I feel that we don’t see often enough especially in YA. I just enjoyed that the fact he was black was never an issue and it didn’t change how he was perceived by the other characters. He was a childhood friend and the color of his skin was only a small part of what made him up. Yet his fae nature did allow us to in some way explore tangentially what it meant to other within a community. I felt that it was really well done and enjoyed the element in the story in a way that other readers may not necessarily get. Jack’s experience though identical in appearance was different than Carter’s.
It’s also great that this is a proper standalone.
I really enjoyed Holly Black’s writing. It hit just right for me that I felt it was beautifully and flowed wonderfully. Also the world building was slow and didn’t throw everything you at once which I enjoyed. On occasion it did feel a tad confusing when someone was revealed that went against initial presumptions. That said I enjoyed the way the world was built up. The forest felt like a character.
As for the plot and it’s pace. The plot worked for me. It was simple. However it didn’t have a lot of events. Instead we were left to spend time with the characters and the world. As a result, if you are looking for a fast plot this is not the book to look to. The book favors developing the characters, their pasts, and their relationship to the forest over the plot. I did not mind that because as I mentioned I enjoyed the characters.
I really enjoyed this story and it was definitely one that I really loved. I wouldn’t be surprised if upon my eventual reread of this book if I elevate it to one of my favorites.