Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

20958632Children 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?


Rating: 2/5 Stars

The synopsis of The Darkest Part of the Forest is epic. It hints at a creepy and magical world and effects a level of excitement that makes you clear your entire day for reading, feeding your family be damned. But as I began turning the pages, fully expecting to be sucked in, I  felt my attention swaying as the story fell short over and over again.

I really dislike giving low ratings, but I can’t go any higher than two stars for TDPotF and here’s why:

  1. The world building was mediocre. I couldn’t envision the town or even the fairy forest, and the tension we were supposed to feel between the two worlds fell flat. Even the legend of the prince and the shock of his waking – which I guess was supposed to be a major part of the story? – didn’t feel like a big deal.
  2. The characters were underdeveloped and inconsistent. I couldn’t connect with any of them, and I’m kinda depressed about it because there was so much potential for them to be so much more than they were. {ahem, Jack! I mean… the guy could have his own novel.} What little personality they had didn’t quite fit with their actions, making the believability nil. There was no development in the relationships, and insta-love without any real foundation is always boring.
  3. The weird kissing thing. We were given a half-assed reason as to why Hazel felt the need to kiss every boy she saw, but I’m still not convinced that it was good enough. It was just kinda weird and never came in to play. She was supposed to be liked and admired by all, but I didn’t see what was so awe-inspiring about her. She was a cookie-cutter character with none of the flare we were told she was supposed to have.
  4. The plot was rushed. All the action and twists felt crammed in to too few pages, and the direness of the situation didn’t feel real. I guess without that essential connection to the characters, I couldn’t really care about what happened to them.


However, the writing style kept me intrigued and turning the pages, allowing me to see why Holly Black is a bestselling author. Maybe this particular novel was just rushed through to meet a deadline. Maybe she was in a slump. I don’t know what happened, but it needed a few more runs through the editing process or maybe a hundred more pages. There was such potential here, and it saddens me to say that it didn’t live up to the hype.

Great idea; poor execution.

This is the first book of Black’s I’ve read, so I won’t give up yet. I’ve heard great things about her books and will definitely be giving them another shot.