Before I get into anything too deep though, let's look at that cover! I mean, look at it. It's simply gorgeous. It is probably one of my favorite book covers. A+ job. They say not to judge a book by its' cover, and you probably shouldn't, but this cover should make you rethink that. It's simply stunning and made to catch the eye; simply marvelous.
Not only is the cover stunning, but the writing is too. It's Holly Black through and through - as it should be, considering that she's the author of this tale. I've read a few of her other books and I have good things to say about most of them, but let me tell you that she has outdone herself with this novel. Honestly, it takes me back to when I was reading The Spiderwick Chronicles for the first time, but more. Does that make any sense? It felt the same, even if the universes are very different.
The Darkest Part of the Forest is about a brother and sister living in the town of Fairfold. This town is so in the middle of everything and it seems like it has been for a long time. The people of Fairfold have lived next to the Fair Folk for a long time, long enough to know that not all of them play nice. There are protections and it's kind of an unspoken thing that the people of Fairfold aren't bothered; but that's where Hazel and Ben come in.
Outside of this town there's a forest, a forest that is full of dangerous things. Hazel has always felt a sense of justice and feels like she should be the wall between those of Fairfold and the fae, and Ben goes along with it. They both want to protect their home. They don't think they should have to be afraid, so they bring things into their own hands. Hazel does, more often than not. But, even though they know that the fae can be dangerous, they have grown up in this town. They know what they're doing - or they think they do.There are some things that are dangerous that they don't want to think are.
"Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves."
Hazel is very much the main character of this story and, even though her brother might not play the biggest part, I'm sure that he's a main character as well. He is an essential part to this story, even if sometimes he's just there. As the readers, we do see some things out of his point of view, but not near as much as Hazel's. She has dreams of being a knight, dreams of protecting her town, and she's very headstrong. She has a confidence about her that others notice, even if she doesn't always feel as confident as she looks. But there's also a rebelliousness to her, one that we see very early on.
Ben is the older sibling and portrays that very well. He's more mature and shows that he thinks things through a lot more than Hazel does. He's not as confident, but he is kind and cares about his sister more than anything. Ben is a large part of the story, even if we don't get very many scenes from his point of view; if he wasn't there, the book would be completely different, because Hazel would be different. He might not be the main character, but he is the farthest thing from irrelevant.
Jack is another character who has an important part to play. Personally, I was not expecting him to be such a large part of the story, but I don't regret that he was. He is a good guy and, even though I struggled with liking him at times, I couldn't think of him not being in the book. He might not have been the most crucial part of the story, I can't really see him not being there.
I think one of my favorite parts of this book has got to be the fact that it is so full of magic, for a lack of better word. Fairfold is a town on our plane but it is on the edge of fairy territory, if it's not actually fairy territory. Holly Black is no novice when it comes to writing about the supernatural, and she does it flawlessly. I love anything to do with the supernatural, especially anything fae, but that's not what makes this my favorite thing about this book. My favorite thing is that this book is different.
Take a look at all the other books out there that have dealings with the fae. Very few of them show just how scary fairies can be. I have read more than my fair share of these kinds of books. I'm not saying that they act like fairies are harmless, but there are always stupid decisions made because the main character(s) didn't know any better. The Darkest Part of the Forest doesn't have that. Everyone in the town know what kind of creatures live beside them; they take precautions, they have protections to use. That's what gets me about this book - there might have been a stupid decision made here or there, but that has nothing to do with lack of knowledge. Those decisions were made while knowing exactly, at least mostly, what the consequences would be.
After reading this review, if you've stuck with me, you should probably go pick up this book. Even if you don't go buy it outright, you should still go check it out from your local library, if they have it. Borrow it from a friend if they have it. I'm not saying that you're going to love it; you might hate it. Ultimately it's your choice, but, I think it's worth a go.
Just keep in mind that every book has it's flaws. Like people, no book is perfect, but you also can't judge by appearances and what other people say about them. You just have to find out for yourself whether it's your kind of book or not.
Super small spoiler section
First of all, Hazel. She's cool, confident and mostly collected. At first she's probably one of my least-liked characters, but that's not her fault. Sure, she lied to her brother, sure she kisses every boy under the sun, and, yes, she does make a stupid decision. What teenager doesn't do any of this though? Throughout the book we find out more about her as an individual and why she does some of the stuff that she does, and I slowly grew fond of her because of it. But that does not mean I am completely okay with everything that she did.
Jack, on the other hand, also had to grow on me. He was introduced early on and I liked him from the start, but it was only a small like. It was like "Oh, he's a changeling, that's so cool" but he's not just a changeling. He's a changeling that's grown up as a human, someone who knows he's different and has gotten that fact rubbed in his face a lot. He is not human and that means he does not have a human lifespan. He ages like others of his kind, essentially he will remain young and live far beyond his human family. He will lose them eventually and that makes my heart ache. He doesn't deserve this. He deserves to be happy, not torn in two.
On the other hand, I am so glad he and Hazel got together. Like, I'm glad your crush paid off Jack and she finally decided to leave Severin to Ben. Honestly, I shipped Severin and Ben together from the start, and I'm glad that they did get together and confess their love, but I feel like it was very sudden. But, then again, that's pretty much the norm with books in the YA category anymore. It doesn't seem that realistic, but I am ecstatic that they got together. Kudos to Holly for making my ship set sail.
Let's talk about Ben, who is, by far, my favorite character in this novel. He is not perfect, nobody is. He knows his faults, just like he knows his talents. He wants to protect the town, but, more than anything, he wants to protect his younger sister. That's why he wants them to stop hunting in the first place; I think he used his lack of control as an excuse, even though it was true. Ben wants to protect Hazel from everything and he would probably die to save her. It's partly why I think he was so betrayed when he found out about the deal she made with the fae; she might have done it for selfish reasons, but it was partly his fault. He couldn't protect her like he wanted to. His talent, or curse, is to produce music that is just as beautiful as anything any faerie could create, and it basically calms them down - same with people. This talent essentially let's him control peoples' emotions and how they handle situations and he doesn't want it. He stops playing music entirely, even if he listens to it almost constantly. He even broke his hand to stop himself before he did something he would regret.
And then he sings to protect Hazel. Yes, Hazel wasn't the only one in the house. Half the town was there, plus Severin, but Hazel has always been the one that Ben has protected. There was a monster, there was Sorrow, and she was there and she was trying to attack his little sister and Ben had to do something. He knew he couldn't fight, so he did the one thing that he knew he could do.He sang. Think of how hard that would be for him? He spent years trying not to do anything with his talent and then finally he has to let it out or his sister might die.
Benjamin Evans is the type of person who would do anything for anyone that he thinks needs it. Even if it means doing something he hasn't done in years, something he doesn't want to do.
Now, how about Severin? The thing is, we had heard a lot about him before he actually woke up. We got a good half of the book trying to figure out who he is, what this mystery surrounding him is, and I think we could have gotten more. One of the first things that we, as the readers, see him doing is kissing Hazel. Like, what the frick? I know he supposedly heard everything that was said around him but that doesn't mean he just needs to go kiss a girl as soon as he meets her, even if she had spoken to him a lot.
One of the things I didn't like about this book include the whole parent involvement thing. There are a lot of books like this, where the parents either are not there or don't really care enough to pay attention. Ben and Hazel's parents are very much there, they know exactly how dangerous the town they live in is, and yet they don't really seem to prevent anything from happening. From what we learned in the book, they just seemed kind of neglectful? That might just be my take on it though.
End spoiler rant thing
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this book! This was my first book review and I didn't want to go in too deep just in case there are people who haven't read the book and I don't want to get too spoiler happy(even though I did make a longer spoiler section than initially intended).
I'm not really sure what book I'll be doing next, or when I'll get it up, but I hope that you guys keep on reading with me!