Down in the wood where nobody… everybody goes…
Publisher: Indigo (Hachette)
Age: Young Adult
First Published: 13th January 2015
Date Reviewed: 5th April 2016
Hazel and her brother, Ben, have spent their childhoods visiting the glass casket in the forest that holds the sleeping boy with the horns – everyone has: he’s been there for generations. The teenagers love him with a passion, even whilst knowing he could be as dark as the rest of the faeries residing in Fairfold. One day the casket is found broken, the boy gone, and Hazel thinks she had something to do with it.
The Darkest Part Of The Forest is a young adult fantasy gathering together various bits and pieces from western folklore.
Unlike many books of its age range and genre, the book is set neither in our real world or faerie-land, instead straddling both. All the humans who live in Fairfold know about the fey and respect them – in order to remain at peace – and whilst there are some newcomers who don’t believe (how this can be so I’m not sure) there are plenty of tourists. Tourists who are found dead in ditches because they didn’t know the rules. It’s an interesting set-up and whilst the world-building isn’t too great it’s good enough.
Black favours the same approach to equality in faerie contexts as Malinda Lo did in 2012’s Ash. Her commentary on LGBT relationships stops on the first note that Ben likes boys. In this book, aided perhaps by faerie, love is love and needs no questioning.
It must be said the writing isn’t very good. In fact it’s quite substandard but for the most part that doesn’t matter and Black does ensure the characters sound different.
It’s the plot that matters most, and the only problem with that is that it’s a vague one. Black favours teasing out the story but goes a bit too far, neglecting to provide information when necessary for the reader to appreciate her point. I’m personally still not sure what the ending was about, who exactly Hazel was, and I haven’t a clue about the history she mentions in regards to changeling Jack. And it’s not that it’s an ambiguous ending, it’s that information just isn’t included.
This said, The Darkest Part Of The Forest has enough going for it for me to recommend you try it if it intrigues you. It’s a quick read and a good original idea, it’s just lacking in execution. A retelling of the concept of the faerie tale itself, a mash-up of ideas, and certainly not a bad way to spend an evening, there’s just nothing new in it and others have done it a lot better.
July 9, 2016, 7:18 pm
I love the sound of the premise – I am sorry to hear it didn’t quite live up to your expectations.
July 13, 2016, 8:01 pm
I’ve heard people raving about how fabulous this book is almost to the point that I’m not sure I believe them. Your review seems so much more realistic. Thanks for that!