Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
All hail fabulous fantasy standalones!
I very much enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest – it’s Holly Black at her best, so if you don’t like her style, chances are you won’t like this one either.
I, however, am a fan of her edgy, dark, twisty, sexy and occasionally plain weird writing, and this book was a joy to read – no fluffy fairy tales here! It’s dreamy and gritty, if such a combination can exist, involving a sleeping horned boy in a glass coffin, a brother gifted with the magical gift of music, a changeling best friend, a sister with a double life, a town tentatively existing alongside the Fair Folk.
And what a tricksy bunch they are. These fey are manic and fierce and responsible for a number of disappearances and strange occurrences within the area, and woe betide the mortal that enters into a bargain with them, for people usually end up getting (or losing) more than they bargained for.
I loved the sibling relationship between Ben and Hazel – how they both, in their own way, try to protect the other, but end up wound up in a web of secrets. Hazel as a character was interesting – she was brave, she enjoys kissing boys and doesn’t particularly care what other people think, she’s loyal but impulsive, a somewhat troublesome combination, and in the end, she is the one that does the saving.
I like the pairings in this book, and especially this cheesy but wonderful declaration (but I won’t tell you to whom it was addressed):
“I love you,” Severin said, looking up, looking at nothing at all, his face exultant. “I love you like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I’ve loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all.”