Thursday, 15 January 2015

DNF Review: The Darkest Part in the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: January 13th, 2015
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher **I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a honest review**
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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?

As I've continually said, DNF'ing sucks. But it is what is. Not every book is going to be for me and I'm not forcing myself to finish something I'm not enjoying. Which was the case with The Darkest Part of the Forest. I made it to the half-way mark and I felt like that was an accomplishment. I was beyond the point where I felt like it was a chore to read it. I would put it down for a day or two and when I went to pick it up I had totally forgotten what just happened. So I'd have to go back and read the last few pages. Not cool.

To be fair I don't think The Darkest Part of the Forest is a bad book. I thought there was some intriguing elements at its core. But with my lack of connection to anything to do with the story it was hard to really care how those elements came into play. But I did like the idea of humans and faeries co-existing in this town. I liked how tourists would flock to the town. I liked how the thought that humans and faeries could live like this with the humans thinking they had control of the arrangement was plausible. Because of course the fae would not live like that peacefully for long or at all. The boy in the unbreakable coffin is an intriguing concept. Who is he? What is his purpose? But...

I just found this so bleak and slow going. It was really hard to keep my attention for more than a few pages. A lot of bits I was just skimming. I felt like the writing was missing something. It just didn't have that pull to keep me interested but to also convey this dark and weird story in a compelling way. I don't think I'm the only one to admit that it's really hard to come across a fae book I like. If a darker fae story is told right, you're not really meant to love these creatures. They're tricksy and mean. And Black was definitely pulling off that part of fae characterization. But that bit where I hate the creature but secretly like them wasn't there. For me hating something also needs to come with a secret bit of love. It's how I am. Like of course I hate Umbridge with everything in my being, but I also love how awful of a person she was. She's worse than Voldemort. You know?

It was great to see a strong bond between a sister and brother. A lot of YA books fail to show strong family relationships. So that's definitely a great pro to The Darkest Part of the Forest. I just didn't connect to Hazel. She has this kind of connection to the fae, which is one of the main story arcs. Hazel and Ben(her brother) hunted them when they were younger. At some point Hazel made a deal with one and well a person never comes out on the right end of a deal with a faery. Plus Hazel has this thing for the boy in the coffin. Actually Ben does too(yay for diversity). Which both of those stories sounded so full of potential. How is Hazel going to evade her deal? How are Hazel and Ben going to help or destroy the boy in the coffin? I don't know because it was taking so freakin' long to just move forward and find some answers. For such a short, stand alone book I wanted fast pace with quick story progression. There wasn't that. At 50% the horned boy is just free. I don't really see that leaving a lot of time to fully develop interesting interactions with him and the siblings. I didn't really see the point of Hazel's purpose in knowing she was meant to be a knight. Maybe I was missing something(probably...). But I didn't get it nor did I care to get it.

The Darkest Part of the Forest just didn't work for me. Another unfortunate thing is that this is my 4th Black book and my 4th flop by her. I think it's time to coincide that as popular and well loved of an author as she is, she's just not the author for me. I just don't click with her writing and story telling. It is just another, it is what is situations.

Happy reading!



  1. It's sad to see that you didn't enjoy The Darkest Part Of The Forest, especially as I myself loved it and love Holly Black's work but it just goes to show that not all books and authors are for everyone.

    Thea @ Gizzimomo's Book Shelf

  2. Not every author works for everyone and it definitely sounds like Black doesn't work for you. It definitely sucks to DNF books but there's so many great books out there what's the point of forcing ourselves to finish a book we either don't like or couldn't care less about? Hopefully your next read is fantastic!

  3. I seriously loved The Coldest Girl in Coldtown but I agree, I am struggling with this one right now too. I thought about DNF when I was listening to it on the way home.
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings