The Darkest Part of the Forest

by holly black | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 9780316536219 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 2/26/2023
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, February 26, 2023
I got this softcover at a local Barnes and Noble, for another release copy. (It's the selection for an upcoming book-group.)

It opens with this evocative passage:

"Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives."

The story's set in a small town that touches up against a wood inhabited by the fey, and there's a delightful (and often creepy) mix of mundane modern life and ancient faerie myths. The locals have come to a kind of detente with the fey, respecting their presence and obeying certain rules while also using protective talismans to keep off the worst of the mischief; in return, the fey (mostly) focus on tourists for their pranks, hunts, or outright crimes. But there have been incidents that cross this tentative boundary; among them, one local family had their child taken and a changeling left behind. The mother realized what had happened and knew what to do to reclaim her own child - and once she had her baby back, she refused to let the faerie mother reclaim *her* kid on the grounds that if she was willing to swap it in the first place she wasn't a good enough mother to deserve any children. Hence the mundane family with near-twin sons, one their own and the other fey!

The protagonists of the story are siblings Hazel and Ben, who are friends with changeling-boy Jack. Hazel and Ben also share a fascination with the horned prince in the crystal coffin - not that that's unusual, as the thing has become a major tourist attraction as well as a hangout for locals. It's impossible to break - and word has gotten out that those who try tend to have really bad luck not long afterwards - and nobody knows how to open it or wake the prince, but rumors abound as to what it will mean if and when he does wake. Hazel and Ben each have a major crush on the beautiful sleeper, and have a more respectful attitude towards him, so when (surprise!) he does wake up, they find themselves allied with him in what may be a deadly war with the king of the local fey...

Complicating things: Hazel broke one of the key rules about staying safe from the fey, by making a bargain with them as a child. She had good intentions, but of course the agreement was manipulated by the fey for their own amusement, and much of the book is about Hazel gradually learning what she has been paying - and how badly the deal worked out for her brother, whom she wanted to benefit.

I liked the weaving of faerie myths with modern-day kids and their community, and I found the characters sympathetic and interesting. The relationships worked out as I'd hoped they would {wry grin}, though as with any dealings between fey and mortal it seems there may be some heartache down the line. But in general the story works well, with tantalizing clues leading to major revelations, alliances and bravery and some trickster behavior - good yarn!

[There's a short TV Tropes page on the book.]

Released 2 mos ago (3/24/2023 UTC) at Little Free Library - 547 Beacon St. in Lowell, Massachusetts USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

** Released for the 2023 4 Elements challenge. **

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