Back to Fae, how they capture my heart, spin me around, and leave me longing for so much more. Quick question! Do you like it when I write full in detailed descriptions for the plot section or not?
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Synopsis From The Book
In the woods is a glass coffin. It rests on the ground, and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives….
Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side. Since they were children, Hazel and Ben have been telling each other stories about the boy in the glass coffin, that he is a prince and they are valiant knights, pretending their prince would be different from the other faeries, the ones who made cruel bargains, lurked in the shadows of trees, and doomed tourists. But as Hazel grows up, she puts aside those stories. Hazel knows the horned boy will never wake.
Until one day, he does….
As the world turns upside down, Hazel has to become the knight she once pretended to be.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Holly Black, I am here to read your fairy tales again (mostly to get back into the world before Cruel Prince and Wicked King.) I loved the Modern Fairytales (I plan to reread them before Cruel Prince and Wicked King). I don’t know what to think of for this book. I figure that it will be excellent and a dark story (or twisted at least.) I, sadly, have high hopes. Let’s see how this pans out. I fear that by having high hopes, I will ultimately end up sad.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I swear that I can not get enough of fae in my life at all. My heart swooned. My mind raced. I fell in love. And I remembered why I adore fairies. This is one of those books that I’d take with me to anywhere I may go. I love this book and now Cruel Prince and Wicked King tempt me all the more.
Hazel and her brother Ben, one year older, live in Fairfold a town of people that is closely knit with the fae called They Themselves or the Folk of the Air. When Ben was a baby, he was blessed/cursed to be gifted with music. When he and Hazel were older the two used to kill fae (Hazel wanting to be a knight with her sword, and Ben as her bard with music support) in the woods who kidnapped and murdered tourists. Hazel made a wish to get Ben into a good school (so he could get better at magic) and gave up 7 years of her life to do it. Ben went to the school, and then broke his fingers (on purpose) forcing himself out. He swore to never play music again. (He blamed his ability for people doing things, which wasn’t true but he thought it was. So he swore not to use it because he didn’t want to hurt anyone)
Fairfold has always had a coffin with a boy within it. The coffin could never be broken and the boy within it never woken. Hazel and Ben always joked and told stories of the boy, loving him in their own ways, hoping he would wake.
Hazel flirts with many but doesn’t get feelings, as she figures she already ruined her brother’s life by doing so (she kissed the boy he was dating once). If she could go after the one she liked it would be Jack, Ben’s best friend, who she has known forever. Jack who was a Changeling sent to replace a boy named Carter, but later Carter’s mother tricked her way into keeping both Carter and Jack. Jack is fae but grew up with the humans. Everyone knows this. Hazel really likes him.
One day the coffin for the boy is broken, he escapes and the three are drawn into the affairs that involve the whole town. Hazel awakes that morning with mud everywhere in her room, glass splinters in her hand, and a mysterious message. After finding out about the broken coffin, Ben goes to investigate, and Hazel follows. Hazel realizes she broke Severin out of his coffin but has no idea when or for who — she has no memory of it. Hazel and Ben encounter the boy from the coffin, named Severin, after Hazel found him over the body of a girl. Severin reveals that he needs a sword to defeat a monster, or else the monster is going to destroy everything, just like it hurt the girl.
The girl, a girl Jack has said he liked, is in a coma and everyone thinks is because of Jack. Rather, instead of Jack having done it, that the fae did it for Jack, due to his ‘heartbreak.’ While these rumors are being spread, the school is attacked by the monster, and the main characters narrowly escape. Hazel demands Jack take her to the full moon revel so she may speak to the Alderking.
When speaking to the Alderking, it is revealed that for the last five years Hazel has given up her nights for the 7 year debt, actively becoming a major knight for the fae. She does not remember any of it, due to the magic the king has put on her. Additionally she learns that Severin and the monster are the children of the king. He demands Hazel get him the sword that can cut anything, and says he can control his daughter with a special ring. When she returns with Jack to the human world, they are forced to flee his house to hers (the city is having a meeting about what to do with Jack, and his human mother sent him away to protect him). They meet up with her brother.
While Jack and Hazel were at the revel, Severin came to Ben and explained what happened between Severin and his sister (what caused her to go mad). When the two return they are able to rest a bit, before Ben forces them awake with the news of the city meeting. Jack and Hazel go, followed by Ben and Severin. At the meeting, the monster — Sorrow — attacks. Hazel is able to ward her off with her knight skills while Ben walks Sorrow through the stages of grief with his powerful music ability. Sorrow leaves.
Hazel is still unaware of who she gave the sword to. She believe is to be Jack’s mother. He calls his mother, Ben reveals a clue that Hazel left behind for herself, and Hazel realizes she didn’t give it to Jack’s mother. It is too late, the fae have come and they are taken before the Alderking. A fight breaks out. Severin declares his love for Ben before he thinks he was about to die. Hazel finds the sword she had hid, and kills the king (not before he can release his spell on her forcing her to remember everything) and all is set right.
What I Liked:
Hazel; She’s a girl, a very simple girl, who just wants to protect her brother. I respect it. She’s also a kick ass knight, after having made a deal with the Fae. She kisses boys, kills evil Fae, and loves those she loves fiercely. What more can I ask for?
Ben; He was gifted with the gift of music, and it was this gift that cursed him. He wanted to use the gift for good, until he felt that it was his gift that was getting him what he wanted. The fact that he destroyed his hands simply because he hated that he could manipulate people, hurt my heart. I’m happy that he ended up happy. He is also super cute, whispering to Severin all the time when Severin was “asleep” in his coffin.
Jack; Oh man do I love Fae who act like humans. Jack is so clearly other when you look at it. He blends in well but when he stops hiding what he is, it is clear as day that he is not human and I love it. Also his love for Hazel is super cute.
Severin; Can’t have a story about Fae without one fairy boy stealing my heart. He almost went crazy in his coffin/confinement if not for Ben talking to him daily. I adore his otherness. I also just adore him.
The relationships; Jack and Hazel is set up and defined. Both want each other, and have for a while, but don’t go after each other because of Ben. Jack is Ben’s best friend and Hazel is Ben’s sister. Yet they have liked each other, and do like each other. They pretend until pretending no longer matters, and even then they don’t initiate anything until the story is complete. Severin and Ben, on the other hand, was just heart aching. Ben had spoken to Severin for years at Severin’s coffin. Severin got back his concepts of days and time because of Ben. Ben told Severin everything, and Severin fell in love with him while he was confined. Also, death confessions are always hella romantic if done right. Then you have the siblings, Hazel and Ben. Hazel made a wish for him, that separated them, but in essence they were always the best of friends. Their relationship reminds me a lot of my own with my brothers. I would do anything for them, and to that I understand her decisions for Ben.
Other characters; Reasonable with their otherness (if Fae) or Humanness, in response to the actions that occur over the course of the book.
Magic and the Fae; this is one of those things that I forgot the feeling of from when I read Moder Fairytales. I had loved those but I didn’t remember how much. These fae are Wicked, true, and powerful. The rules apply and the world bends to those truths. (Add more)
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
I need more. I just need so much more from Ben and Severin’s life in the world of the fae to Hazel and Jack. I need it.
Time Taken To Read
“I have heard every word you’ve ever said to me. Every honeyed, silver-tongued word.” – Severin to Ben, pg 109