The Darkest Part of the Forest
By Holly Black, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang
Length: 8 hours, 39 minutes
Welcome to Fairfold. Here, in the forest beside this quiet little town sleeps a horned boy in a glass casket. Deeper still you may glimpse dangerous faeries, or even monsters. The locals of Fairfold have become accustomed to the oddness that blossoms around them — teenagers drink and party around the horned boy while he sleeps, making shrines of empty bottles and cans and secrets. The tourists love to visit the quaint, sleepy old town. Every once in a while, one of them seems to quietly disappear. But no one seems to worry about that, certainly not the tourists, who continue to visit. Hazel and Ben are teenaged siblings, who have lived in Fairfold most of their lives, and are more familiar with the dangers of the forest than most. After what seems like just another party in the woods, Hazel and Ben wake up the next morning to find things changing in Fairfold, and that the magic in the forest isn’t always safe.
Once again, Black has done an excellent job of bottling up teenage angst and longing, and shaking it up so that when we pop the stopper, lightning fizzes out. Her characters are fueled by their failings, their desire, their friendships, and a need for redemption. If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect Black herself is some kind of changeling, traded by the fae for a human child, and left behind in our world, a constant outsider. And we’re all just lucky enough to gather close and feel the warmth glowing from her stories. I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve read by Black from her Modern Faerie series to her thrilling Curse Workers books, and thought The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was that rare vampire book that managed to be both sexy and terrifying. But The Darkest Part of the Forest is my favorite book of her’s yet — and perhaps even one of my favorite books of the year thus far. (Also: Can I also get a HALLELUJAH for stand-alone books that aren’t part of a series?)
It’s not always easy to hit the right notes for teenage characters, but Laruen Fortang’s narration will make you believe your in high school again, and also convince you that’s a good thing. She makes you wish you could get lost in the forest with a sword, a lover, a six pack of beer, and some wicked fae just beyond the next clearing. Her narration here is superb.
So meet me after dark out by the glass casket where the horned boy sleeps. Bring some beer and all of our friends, and let’s do this all over again, because this is Holly Black at her best.
Special thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this audiobook to review.