So, I finally visited my local library and picked up a book — The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black! I was so stoked they had it. When I first read the synopsis, it sounded super intriguing — how can you not love a story with a boy in a glass coffin, knights, princes, faeries, and curses?
I have to say, though, that this book was NOT what I thought it was!!!
First, a synopsis from Amazon:
Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He’s the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him – but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for…
Pretty straightforward, yeah?
I think because of the whole faerie prince and glass casket thing, it immediately put me in mind of some medieval-type setting. You know the ones — women wearing laced bodices, drawing water from a well — that type of story.
It’s contemporary. It takes place in a small town that happens to have loads of faerie activity that the outside population just happens to write off. The prince in the glass casket is a tourist attraction, and the local kids like to make it their drinking spot.
One day, the boy from the glass casket is GONE and Hazel, our protagonist, has a feeling she has something to do with it. She has woken up with shards of glass all over her and mud on her feet, and she keeps having odd dreams.
I’ll stop there so I don’t give too much away.
I had considered setting the book down because it didn’t meet my expectations, but I stuck with it and I overall found it to be enjoyable. I loved the faery mythology that was woven in with the town’s story, and I loved Hazel “crashing” a faery revel.
This is currently a standalone novel. However, when asked if there would be more, Holly Black said there may be — it depends on if she feels like writing them (or something like that). I kind of hope there are — there are plenty of unanswered questions about the faery world and the horned prince!!
I was most intrigued by Ben’s storyline (Hazel’s brother). Ben and Hazel’s mother traded a portrait of a faery for a blessing (or a curse) on Ben when he was a baby — promising that he will have extraordinary musical talent. Ben feels the burden of this talent and it profoundly effects his character and relationship with Hazel.
There were a few things that I felt happened very quickly or suddenly — with little or no explanation, and I hope that the author does choose to explore this world further in future books.
The author’s website can be found here.