A review by Nalini Haynes
Format: hardcover, 272 pages
Publisher: Hachette Childrens Books
Ben and Hazel, brother and sister, were named after famous rabbits. Ben did not lose his coat buttons, however. Instead he lost his heart to Sleeping Beauty. In The Darkest Part of the Forest, ‘Snow White’ is a beautiful boy satyr lying in an indestructible coffin in the forest, surrounded by the shattered remnants of beer bottles and rusty cans, the refuse of generations of parties in the only party spot in Fairford.
Fairford echoes Sunnydale with fae instead of vampires, but the locals are conscious and consciously pretending they’re not living on a knife’s edge.
Ben was blessed and cursed by a fae woman when he was a babe. When he plays no-one can think of anything other than his music. Hazel, wanting to be anything other than normal, aspires to be a knight so she can save everyone. They team up to hunt fairies after a friend of theirs was killed.
Years later, life has grown complicated as it does when you’re a teenager with secrets.
Words cannot express how much I love this book. My first memories of distinctly Celtic fairytales was when I was 6, reading a primer in grade 2. One of those stories was about a changeling too. Holly Black has taken the Celtic folklore I love and modernized it to become a kick-ass story.
I love that Hazel is the knight while Ben is the Bard. They are both in love with Snow White because, as brother and sister, they love each other but they are also rivals. Their shared stories, their shared lives, enrich the Dark of the Forest as backstory and current relationships. Hazel is ‘straight’ while Ben is definitely gay; they both have romances. Jack is a changeling, suffering the stigma — suffering racism — for being different, being ‘other’, although his human family who are dark-skinned are accepted. Monsters from fairytales roam the forest.
I started The Darkest Part of the Forest after the minion arrived home last night. He took the hint and played WoW while I read — until he needed a port to hunt an Unborn Val’kyr. This morning I picked up The Dark of the Forest again and read until it was finished. I want MOAR. Not a sequel, just more… More of The Darkest Part of the Forest and more of this type of story.
The Darkest Part of the Forest is a hardcover (yum) with a dust jacket that will stand out in a bookstore. The primary feature of the front is the title in a large gothic font edged with leaves and vines over a shades-of-brown background. A blue butterfly provides contrast as it alights on the second line of the title. The spine features the title in large gothic letters on leaves and vines. The back cover features a few lines of text as a blurb on a shades-of-brown background with some vines growing across the bottom and up one side. Under the dust jacket, the cover is plain black with gold lettering on the spine citing author and title in the same fonts.
Rating: 5/5 stars.