THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST

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BOOK REVIEW: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST / AUTHOR: HOLLY BLACK / PUBLISHER: INDIGO / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 15TH

Holly Black is better known for her work on The Spiderwick Chronicles, a series of novels that talk about the secret world of fairies. Despite also being a story that features the fey, The Darkest Part of the Forest is an entirely different sort of story, one of looming adulthood and that terror unique to small towns; the notion that one is never going to escape the legacy of their parents.

Black’s new novel is set in the town of Fairfold, a modern American town with a deadly twist.  Whereas some small American towns have large balls of twine or hat museums to attract tourists, Fairfold has a genuine incursion from the land of Fairy going on. In the middle of the forest is a glass coffin, and a young man, fair of face with tiny horns, lies sleeping and has done so for a very long time. The locals scorn the tourists who come to see the coffin, gawk, get photos taken and then occasionally wander off into the forest never to be seen again.

The locals know how to deal with the Fair Folk. They carry cold iron, they know the charms to say. None of them talk about the horrors that the magical creatures bring, treating these unique circumstances the way most people would regard natural hazards or a local nuclear power station.  The book focuses on the story of Hazel and Ben. Hazel regards herself as more than savvy in the ways of the fairy, but her own hubris has wrapped her into the curse that the town suffers. Things only get worse when the boy in the glass coffin suddenly vanishes.

On one level, The Darkest Part of the Forest is a rollicking young adult fantasy adventure filled with magic and intrigue, detailing the trials of young mortals trying to survive in a world that has literally fallen to chaos. On another level, this is a story about growing up, about escaping the ties that bind, and understanding the price of adulthood. Either way, it’s a gripping read, and if you like stories that feature the darker sort of elf, then you should check it out.

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