Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

Tropes have staying power because they bring up something primal in us. The concept of Faerie depends utterly on a vision of beauty and power unattached to any code of morality. The fairy folk belong neither to heaven nor hell, but they pay a tithe to hell, and it is perilous to know them or to see their beauty.

Of course, one of the problems with a trope is that writers love to blur their edges. After a hundred urban fantasies featuring the Fair Folk, they start to seem pretty tame; kind of like glittery vampires who only eat Bambi.

So that makes Holly Black’s forthcoming novel a welcome change. She’s gone back to the root of the trope — a world in which Fairies are mad, bad, dangerous to know, and beautiful beyond imagining, and only an idiot or a fool tries to bargain with them.

So there is a town where people know how to protect themselves from the Fair Folk (though tourists are often not so lucky), a town that has its own Sleeping Beauty, a fairy prince encased in glass, a place where a girl who dreams of being a knight may just find her wish fulfilled. A place where you need to be careful what you wish for.

That is the world of The Darkest Part of the Forest, and it’s well worth a visit, if only because in this book the primal trope wakes up and gives a Tarzan yell.

I got the advance review copy of this book at Book Expo America, and have no other connection with the author. The Darkest Part of the Forest will be published in January, 2015.

7 thoughts on “Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

  1. OK, folks! We have a winner.

    The copy of Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest goes to Ragini Ramalingam!

    Ragini, email me at this address: pdeane at alliteration.net with a mailing address, and I’ll get the book to you.

    Everyone else — great comments, great book suggetions. It was a close call, choosing. May look some of them up to review. 🙂

    Paul

  2. OK, I gave people an extra day just to be on the safe side, but comments are now closed. Thanks to the five people who commented and suggested books. I’ll select a winner and announce it very soon.

  3. For the first time this year I have actually taken a keen interest in Faeries. Having read mostly about the supernatural most my life and historical wars, Holly Black’s books have changed my outlook on the faeries which I new as a child. The dangerous and the sweet, but mostly dangerous.

    My recommendation for reader’s who have also taken a keen interest in Holly Black’s faerie books are the following:

    1. The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa:
    If you have read Tithe by Holly Black. This would be my top recommendation for you. A series that revolves around Meghan Chase a young girl who has always felt off from her surroundings. Our friend Meghan here soon finds out that she too is linked to the ever enchanting Faerie world. What does she find out? She is the daughter of a mythical faery king and a pawn in a very deadly war. Throw in a dark stranger that watches her and protective prankster bff and we have a party ladies and gentlemen.

    2. Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr:
    The Wicked Lovely series is a great way to start off your Faery addiction. In this book there are three rules that you must follow in order to survive from the viscous claws of the fey: 1. Don’t ever attract their attention. 2. Don’t speak to invisible faeries. 3. Don’t stare at invisible faeries. We kick off this teen feary series with Aislinn (If you don’t know how to pronounce her name, don’t worry. Melissa Marr was kind enough to give you an index in the back of her books in which she explains each character’s name and pronunciation.) who has always been able to see faeries, she has lived by the rules but soon the rules no longer work. She has caught the attention of an alluring man, Keenan, who is the Summer King. The Wicked Lovely series doesn’t stick just to one character. She builds up from each of Aislinn’s friends where they also come to terms of the world of fey. Expect teen girls with rough backgrounds, alluring fearie men and a wicked plot!

    3. Bones of Faerie series by Janni Lee Simner:
    These books revolve around a 15 year old Liza were war has broken out between Faeries and Humans. Liza soon discovers she has the power to see into the future and back and her path is set. I would personally recommend this read for its vivid description. It’s first chapter is only 8 short paragraphs long but it really gets you hooked, much faster then you’d think. The book also takes on a much more dark approach on the faerie kingdom. Where a mere flower could be as dangerous as a lion. Something that you’d like if you enjoy Holly Black’s outlook of the darker side of faeries.

    There we go. My top 3 series recommendations. Happy reading everyone!

  4. Holly Black has been a staple in my bookshelf ever since my 2nd grade teacher read us Spiderwick Chronicles after lunch. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is my favourite vampire book, and I’m sure that The Darkest Part of the Forest will be an addition to my favourite faerie books, which include her previous works about faerie. These are my recommendations:
    1. Fiendish – Brenna Yovanoff – I’ve always loved how Ms. Black’s books are always sort of morbid, but delightfully fascinating. Brenna Yovanoff’s latest book Fiendish has the same kind of dark atmosphere, although it has nothing to do with faeries and everything to do with strange magic in a small town. This is the story of Clementine DeVore, who spent ten years trapped in a cellar. When she was smaller, mysterious and unexplainable things happened in her small town. So, the townsfolk burned down her house along with the houses of other “fiendish”, magic- practicing families. Yet Clementine was buried underneath her house, and she wants to know why.
    2. The Treachery of Beautiful Things- Ruth Frances Long – This is a lesser-known fairy book. I think it’s beautiful. This book is not particularly dark, and it paid homage to more traditional faerie stories. When Jenny was younger, she saw the trees swallow her brother. In order to finally say good-bye, she visits the woods where he was taken away from her, and finds herself taken by the trees. She discovers a world of faeries where beautiful things hide great treacheries, where no one can be trusted, and she goes on a journey to save her brother. The romance in this book is perfect, it is not a plot device and it feels very natural. You’ll get a swoony feeling.
    3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor – Something I feel Ms. Black truly excels in is writing kick-ass and strong heroines. I love Tana from the Coldest girl in Coldtown, she is a tough and unflinching character. Of course I also love Kaye from her Modern Faerie Tales series. This is why I recommend Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whose heroine is a strong, smart, artsy girl named Karou. She is mysterious and strange: she draws pictures of monsters, so detailed they seem real, her hair is a bright blue, she is always running off on strange errands to collect teeth and she is the adopted daughter of the devil. But she doesn’t truly know who she is, and when black handprints appear on doorways all over the world and take her only family away from her, and she meets an enigmatic stranger with fiery eyes and black lines slashed along his arms, she sets off on a quest to understand the mystery of herself.

  5. This sounds lovely, I can’t wait to read it!

    Three works I’d dead certain fans of Holly Black will enjoy include:
    1) Anna Dressed In Blood. Kendare Blake has a similar tone to Holly’s – just a little on the edge, a little darker than most and you’re never quite sure what the outcome will be. Anna Dressed in Blood is a sweet little tale of true love – after death. Or maybe it’s just a story about how one ghost hunter really gets it wrong.
    2) Neverwhere. One of Neil Gaiman’s best stories (IMHO) about a young man who falls through the cracks into the world behind London’s homeless. It’s magical, it’s dangerous. It’s everything you read Holly Black for, but with Neil’s own special twist.
    3) Dreamfever (and the rest of the chronicals). This is NOT for anyone under 17. Really. But it’s got evil Fae breaking down the walls between fairy and the mortal world and wreaking havoc and really sounds like a great comparison to Holly’s latest book.
    4) Because #3 has restrictions – Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble. Like The Darkest Part of the Forest, Dreaming Anastasia has taken an old tale and given it a good, hard shake. In this story the life of an ordinary girl collides with that of the legendary Russian Princess. There’s plenty of magic and mayhem as she tries to outwit Baba Yaga and change Anastasia’s fate.

  6. I can still remember reading Holly Black’s Spiderwick chronicles as a young girl. They were my favorite series at the time, and I always waited desperately for the next book in the series. She instantly became one of my favorite authors and I began to read all the books she wrote. So I’m basing my recommendations on a few novels- the Spiderwick chronicles, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and the Curse Workers series.

    1. The Archived by Victoria Schwab- The book follows Mackenzie Bishop, in a world where the dead (AKA Histories) rest on shelves like books. Mackenzie is a Keeper who captures violent Histories that have escaped the Archive. The story starts out heavy and dark, keeping the same tone and mood throughout the novel. It’s great for Holly Black fans who really like the action, romance, and mysteries from the Curse Workers series.

    2. Cracked by Eliza Crewe- The main character, Meda, is a half-demon who must eat people’s souls to survive, so it’s expected that the novel would be dark and violent. Cracked has a lot more hard-core action compared to The Archived and the Curse Workers series. However, like the Spiderwick chronicles and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, it explores the more demonic side of creatures. Cracked also has no love interest for Meda, but introduces romance between the two side characters.

    3. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge- This book is for those who want more of a romance with a dark atmosphere. The characters are complex and layered, and although Cruel Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it is by no means light and sweet. Those who enjoyed the romance in the Curse Workers series will probably like this one too.

    I didn’t add any books with faeries in them because in my opinion, no one has really ever matched the dark atmosphere that Holly Black creates in her faerie novels. A lot of them are too light to be even considered as a recommendation.

    (Thank you for this giveaway!)

  7. Holly Black’s working with the world of Faerie has always intrigued me! I’d love to read this one.

    Three works I think fans of Holly Black’s prior books might enjoy…

    1. Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series. Marr has written a boatload of YA fantasy novels based around a world of faerie that is decidedly removed from Tinkerbell-land. We’re talking faerie here, not fairy.

    2. A book that looks promising but I haven’t quite made it through yet is The Mirk and Midnight Hour, which deals in Tam Lin tropes (in which faeries are also not very safe people to deal with, of course)….

    3. I have glanced at Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series enough to have them on my to-read list (though not yet in hand from the library or bookstore). They look like they might be of interest for Black fans as well.

    Bonus: Maggie Stiefvater’s lesser-known earlier works Lament and Ballad deal in faerie-world stuff that is not all cutesy. Reviews are mixed, but – might be worth a try for those who just-can’t-get-enough-Faerie.

    Extra bonus points if you throw darts at a Tinkerbell illustration (a FernGully fairy pic may be substituted) while enjoying any or all of these books. 😉

    Cheers,
    Kimbra 🙂

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