The darkest part of the forest by Holly Black
Indigo, 2015. ISBN 9781780621739
(Age: 15+) Recommended for fantasy readers. Faeries. Hazel and her brother Ben live in the strange town of Fairfold. In the woods is a glass coffin where a boy with pointed ears and horns on his head lies. When Hazel and Ben were children they had woven strange stories around the boy, hoping that they would be the ones to wake him up, Holly as a knight and Ben with his music. No one can break the glass and his resting place has become a party site for the local teens, including Jack the changeling boy. Tourists come to look at the coffin and wonder about the magic in the town. Hazel still dreams of being a knight, but she is plagued by the nightmare of what will happen to her because she has promised the Alderking seven years of her life in exchange for a favour for her brother. Then Severin the prince in the coffin is woken up and things begin to happen.
Holly Black is a master of the faerie genre. The darkest part of the forest appears to be a stand-alone and is not as dark as her Modern Faerie Tales series, but it still portrays a strange, dangerous and menacing world led by an evil fae king. Although rather slow to start, the pace soon quickens as Holly is forced to face what her promise might mean for herself and for those she loves. Suspense is built up as the reader is taken on thrilling trips into the woods at night to meet the court of the fae. At home in Fairfold, suspense is also built up as Hazel tries to work out the mystery surrounding the horned boy, and comes to grips with her relationship with her brother Ben, his best friend Jack and the horned boy.
The four main characters are well rounded. The reader gains a clear picture of what home life was like for Ben and Holly when they were small and their parents were living a bohemian life, careless of their children's welfare. Jack is a changeling and never quite fits in his family or at school although his brother Carter includes him in everything and Severin the elfin prince has many problems to overcome.
With a mystery to solve with clues around what Holly is doing at night, a touch of romance and some scary moments, this will be a treat for fans of Holly Black and readers who enjoy retellings of fairy tales.