THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, FANTASY, FAE, ROMANCE (M/F & M/M), LGBT+ (GAY SECONDARY CHARACTER)
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…
Hmm… This one was tricky to rate and hard to describe. It has a really unique ‘feel’ to it. I’d maybe say that it’s a little like Stranger Things, but with fae instead of monsters?
I really liked the premise of this book — dark, tricksy fae accepted as a part of life in a contemporary small-town. For me, that was the strongest part of the story, the contrast between the two worlds. I loved the darkness, the way the faeries are a constant, threatening presence in the background, and how this affected the day-to-day life of the town.
Hazel was a really great character. Strong, determined–maybe a little too headstrong and impulsive–and loyal. I liked how pro-active she is, and how much agency she exerts throughout. I just didn’t feel a real connection to her for the majority of the story. I think this is what affected my overall enjoyment of the book. I just wasn’t fully invested in Hazel or her dilemma. I liked the side characters, especially Ben and Jack, and I saw a lot of potential interest in Severin, the Horned Boy. Again, they just didn’t play a big enough part to really grab my attention.
I can see why people will love this book, the unusual modern-day town meets fairy woodland kingdom is brilliant. The language is well-written, at times beautifully descriptive in a way that evokes old fairytales and at times just on the edge of creepy and unsettling. Ultimately though, it just failed to click with me, so I’ve gone with a dead-centre 2.5 rating. That’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend it to others.
On a side note: I read this in as part of Pride month after seeing it on a number of rec lists. While there is a gay character, Ben, and romance, it’s more in the background. This story is Hazel’s, about her adventure and her relationship. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this book for its LGBT+ rep.