Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews, YA

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black


“There’s a monster in our wood. She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks. Punish you for all your tricks. A nest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming… home.”

This. Was. Just. Great.

I really loved this book. I loved the premise of the story, the fact that it was a kind of modern fairytale, the fact that it´s a standalone and the fact that it´s dark. Black dared to make these classical fairytale elements dark and twisted as well as wonderful and enticing rather than just straight forward whimsy and too-good-to-be-interesting.

And I just couldn´t be happier.

I´ve always loved fairytales and folklore. They fascinate me and I think I´ve always wished they were true. That these fairies and creatures living in places described as so normal-but-not that I could imagine them being the very forests found 5 min away from me, were there. But, I´ve also felt fairies and fairytales need a bit of a revival. Too many times they are made too fluffy and goody-goody and it´s really just pixies dancing around in thin dresses. But not here. This fairytale has knights and evil in amidst magic and beauty and gold. There´s all the classic elements you could want: a sleeping fairy prince, a mighty king, and knights with swords so sharp they can cut stone. Then together with the contrasts of modern society, diversity and not straying away from the dark and creepy, it makes a tale I think many more will want to hear.

If anything, it´s a little slow to start. Personally, I didn´t mind this. I thought it added to the contrast between calm and stormy fight and Black planted little snippets of backstory here and there to build a really rich world within the small span of 320 pages, but, I could see how some might find they want action from the very get-go.

I´d also like to point out that I think this is better read in English, in its original language. I read it in Swedish, still wonderful, don´t get me wrong, but I think it would have flowed that bit better in English. While I really like this story in Swedish as it adds to it feeling more folklore-y and like fantasy with a touch of magical realism, many times translating dialogue can end up with a kind of stale feeling. This could be Black´s writing from the beginning, but I´ve had the same problem with other translations. Languages have a certain rhythm and flow and translating that can be really tricky.

So, all in all, I just love this book. I wish there was more at the same time as I love that it´s one of the few standalones that builds a rich fantasy universe at the same time as it leaves me satisfied.

It´s dark and creepy and magical and wonderful.

5/5 stars.


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