Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'The Darkest Part of the Forest' by Holly Black


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?

This is a good book. I haven't read a good book in a long time. 
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. I didn't think I would like it. 

I liked the fantasy world. It was magical and drew me in. I wanted to be a faerie knight. A Tam Lim. I am not a big fan of faeries. (Truly. I only really liked it with an anime series whose name eludes me currently.) But this was a good faerie book. It was a fascinating world. Not only with the cruel 'king' but with the changeling Jack and the other characters. The deal Hazel makes to get Ben into the music school. I've read some other faerie stories, but none of those quite measure up to this one. It's a magical world. 
It drew me in. I do like magic. Magic has its benefits and downsides. Consequences for using it. Consequences for releasing it upon poor innocents. Magic is intriguing. Authors write it differently each time. Elemental magic. Curses. Illusions. The magic used in this book is, without a doubt, different. Heartseeker. Heartsworn. Two beautiful blades with special powers. Special magic. Different magic. And the magic to make Hazel forget. 
Anyways...does anyone know the correct way to spell faerie? I've seen it as fairy, faery, faerie, and, simply, fae. Which one is the correct spelling? I'm not sure. 

As much as I hated Hazel at first, I started to like her. She's like moss. She grows on you. 
I didn't like her because she was with so many guys. (And had feelings for Jack.) I don't like that in a person.
As the story moved on, we got more about Hazel. How she protected the city. And how she went so far to help Ben get into the school he wanted to go to. (Even if it was for selfish reasons.) She's quite brave. I was surprised by her bravery. I admired her after a while. After I got the entire story, I started rooting for her. (Not to be with Severin. To win. To be successful.) 

And diversity. Severin and Ben? Adorable. I don't like those fluffy relationships. But they were adorable together. (Absolutely adorable.) It's a diverse couple. It isn't emphasized that Ben is gay. (Nor is Severin's homosexuality even mentioned.) You just know there are a pair of guys who love each other. (I mean...luuuurrrvvveee each other. Haha. Sorry. I had to.) You're not drowning in it. It's not a constant reminder. 
They were homosexual, but it wasn't shoved upon you. You weren't forced to swallow their homosexuality. It was there but not there. I liked that. That was good, though.

Even though I said this was a good book, there were problems. 

As much as I thought Severin and Ben were cute together, I didn't like the romance. Either one really. Severin and Ben or Hazel and Jack. I don't like romance in general. But I didn't like these especially.
I didn't see why Hazel and Jack got together. Cool, you like each other. Why? Why was Hazel attracted to Jack? Why was he attracted to her? If I only saw the flirty Hazel, not best friend's sister Hazel, I wouldn't like her. (I don't like those people. I prefer people I like not to cheat.) Even if I saw best friend's sister Hazel! I wouldn't like her. She's not very kind on the outside. Not very caring. I don't see why either of them like each other.
And Severin and Ben. I know Severin knows Ben's secrets. And...there is chemistry. I just don't know why they liked the other. Ben saw Severin. Didn't really talk except when Severin told the story of his sister. So...romance building? None really. Ben seems physically attracted. Severin emotionally attracted. (Since he knows Ben's secrets. You know...Ben admitting things to Severin when he was the horned prince.) So...I don't see it. 

The plot started out slow. It picked up action, but the slow beginning was a major turn-off. I was waiting for something to happen. The synopsis promised something great. So I kept waiting. And waiting. Until the action began. Severin escaping is one thing. Hazel fighting is another. (And I prefer the latter. Mysteries don't sit well with me.) I liked the action. Heartseeker and Heartsworn competing for dominance. Wow. Just wow. What a rush.
But I had to wait a long time for that. For the fights to begin, I had to sit through mysteries and Sorrow appearing at terrible times. I had to read Jack bringing Hazel to Faerieland. (And her getting drunk.) I had hints of something. ('Sir Hazel' ringing any bells?) But I had to wait. I am not a good person with waiting. I get anxious. And annoyed.
But...the action was worth it, but it wasn't. I liked it. To an extent. I liked the sword fighting. I liked the seemingly impossible fights. But they were too quick. They came and went like the wind. I didn't particularly enjoy that. 

Overall, this book won me over. (Even with its downsides.) It was enjoyable. I recommend it for fans of fantasy. (Especially faeries. I know I'm a dragon/phoenix/elemental magic girl. But those with other loves, even with those who might hate the Fair Folk, can enjoy this book. Okay. Maybe not Fair Folk haters...)
One last thing. Remember to keep oatmeal in your pockets and iron around your neck. You might need it someday.

Sunny with a 15% chance of rain

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