"I love you like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I’ve loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved that you made me want to laugh. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all."
Hi, my name is Daisy, and I have an unnatural fondness for all fae-type themes in Young and New Adult books. Which is something I believe Holly Black tremendously excels at. Specifically, I'll be reviewing an older book of hers that I recently read titled The Darkest Part of the Forest. I had just came down from the Queen of Nothing (book by Holly black) high and was craving more fae stories. I eventually found this one dove head-first into the book and let me say I was not disappointed.
I'll start by mentioning that this book gave me a small bit of Infernal Devices vibe, but they are on two distinct levels. I say this because these siblings believe they are both in love with the same person. Instead of despising each other for it, they are very considerate of each other's feelings. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Claire has the best love triangle plot that I have ever read. As a result, when I read this book, it made me want to go back and relive that story by CC. With that being said, I loved on this book so deeply it's likely a crime.
This book is set in a modern world, in a whimsical town called Fairfold that is secluded from the 'normal' people. In this town, the small group of citizens that populate it is all aware that they border the magical Kingdom where the fae resides. This frequently entices tourists to visit and see if the rumors of magic and fae are true. For years the citizens have lived in peace with the fae, both sides agreeing on a set of rules that keep the humans safe. All the while allowing humans to enjoy the spoils of magic like better food and art. The tourists, however, are unincluded in those rules. Which makes them fair game for any fae or creature that resides on there. It never prevents them from coming, especially those who seek to witness the horned boy that lives in the middle of the forest inside a coffin.
Ever since they were kids, siblings Hazel and Ben have been in love with the boy that sleeps in a coffin. The horned boy has slept in that spot for generations and not even their parents have a response to why he does not wake. People have attempted countless times to open or break the coffin, alas it has never worked. So instead, the siblings play make-believe on what it would be like if he woke. If they would save him and become his one true love. Their wait is not prolonged, as one night he does wake, and what happens next is something neither of them ever expected.
Hazel: At a young age, she realizes boys find her attractive and utilizes this new knowledge to learn how to weave them around her fingers. At school, she is known for kissing and making all the boys cry because she never allows herself to have any form of a meaningful relationship. She merely enjoys kissing boys and drinking in the thrill of finding new lips. She is then on to the next without much of a care. Outside of learning new ways to flirt, she also plays the role of Knight when she and her brother hunt. They have bestowed themselves the title of protectors, hunting down the creatures of the mystical forest, she with her sword and he with his gift of musical talent.
Benjamin: He is sort of the complete opposite of Hazel. For one, he is a boy who acknowledges at a young age that he is indeed attracted to other boys. It was a hard time for him growing up with that which caused him to only ever had one boyfriend. It did not end well for him, thus forced him to feel like the only person he could love was the boy in the coffin. One he could fantasize about forever without having to actually deal with his fears. While Hazel is the fighter of the two, Ben is the artistic one with a gentle soul to go with it. As a babe, a fae woman gifted him with the ability to make beautiful music. To be a master of all instruments, though it is unknown at the time that his gift comes at a price.
What I Liked: For the most part, this book was an enjoyable read, and I end up giving it a solid three stars. However, you can most definitely see how much Holly Black has grown as a writer when you read some of her newer books like the Cruel Prince series. What I loved most about this book is that it was very cutesy. Some YA books have some uncomfortable sex scenes because I as an adult realize I'm reading about kids. So I always get a little disturbed when sixteen-year girls are talking about sex. I'm aware it's something that happens, I mean I was sixteen once. It's just odd for me to read. With this book, there are many kissing and making out scenes, but that's about as far as it goes. I appreciate that as well as how cute each scene is. Furthermore, I loved the reveal at the end about Hazel. All the kernels of information that was described, led up to the big plot surprise. I admit it was not one I saw coming. I enjoyed the fact that they described Ben as being soft and gentle, but not weak. To indicate to other boys his age that it's okay to be a gentle soul. That it's okay to embrace a sexual preference that doesn't fit in the expected box. I appreciate authors who demonstrate this in books because it will support kids who may be confused or feeling like they can't be their true selves. The story overall was a cute and easy read.
What I Disliked: There is not much I didn't like. The sole thing I can say I disliked is all of the conflicts were too easily defeated. For a standalone, I was expecting more in every conflict and I just didn't get that. The final conflict bothered me the most because it seemed almost ridiculously easy. The one thing that the entire book was leading up to is fixed within a matter of pages. I know the book was attempting to get sinister and chilling near the middle and end. However, because of all the conflicts being fixed so easily I just never felt like they were in any real danger. This is why I gave it three stars instead of four or five.
I enjoyed the book for what it was in the end, and I encourage everyone to read this book if you just want a quick and fun read!