The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black
In several parts I am ashamed to say that I loved The Darkest Part of the Forest, but I loved this book. I think it is because of its traditional YA excursion into what the author in her acknowledgments calls writing over the cliff. It does go over, but most fae legends do, and I think she was influenced by her knowing more than just a few tales from ancient faerie lore.
That's why it was something I should not love. She so skillfully grounds the imagined fantastic with truths about love, lust, friendship, high school parties, the difficulties of growing up, and even adds alternative lifestyles to the tumult (like bohemian artist parents and bi-sexual relationships) all while taking the reader through with her particularly grounded insights. Sort of like clinging to her arm at a high school party, you know everything will turn out okay if you just stick with her and her Hazel, her very empowered yet very mixed up heroine.
I liked this book's fae mystery allure, drawing the reader literally deeper and deeper into her forest of faerie folk and happenstance - by choice, even eagerly - awaiting the next jaunt into the forest with Ben and Hazel Evans leading the way. Ofcourse, you should NOT listen to me. I live next to a faerie possessed land and I never, ever should have gone 'into the forest'. You shouldn't either, but this book WILL take you there and it is to the author's credit that we follow so willingly into the darkest and most mystical parts.
As a parent, I would have suggested this book to my kids at 16, but that's because I am a mother and an author of books for younger readers. Holly Black, also the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, has a handle on what Young Adult literature readers demand and I can imagine she has grown up along with readers of the Chronicles as to still be a favorite author in times when YA is being read earlier and earlier. There is sexual reference, lots of kissing, beer parties and a little Elderberry wine. The faerie legend is alive and well and living in Fairfold, the small town setting of the novel, which seems to be begging for a horror film plot as tourists and townspeople love the horned boy in his coffin as sort of a city landmark, complete with late night beer parties and dancing on top of his coffin. I got so pulled in by her characters and plot, stayed with her when she wrote us over the cliff, and didn't hate her when it all pulled together at the end. On Goodreads I gave it 5 stars! At home, I crafted my monthly vlog content for The Faerie Project after Severin, the horned boy, the Dark Forest's Faery Prince. Watch video 1, below and find parts 2 and 3 at the links, here: