I’ve read quite a few books about the fae-dom in my years as a book nut. I can’t really say that I’m a fan. These paranormal creatures have always annoyed me, in as much as their worlds and rules frustrated me. They’re very tricky, these things. And the rules humans have to abide by are borderline ridiculous. Having read a number of wonderful reviews about this latest fae book from Holly Black prompted me to pick up a copy. In addition, I was curious about Ben’s relationship with a certain someone.
CHILDREN OF THE WILD
This book is about a town surrounded by a forest in contemporary America. The forest is home to faes. Growing up in this town, siblings, Ben and Hazel have known all the legends and myths that their town has become notoriously known for – some with a semblance of truth and some that are straight out of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale book. In the forest was a boy encased in a glass coffin. He’d been sleeping there for years. He was the town’s main tourist attraction. Ben and Hazel have considered him their own and therefore very protective of the boy. Many have tried to break the glass but fail miserably. Until one day, when Hazel woke up disheveled and dirty without any knowledge of where she’d been or what she’d done the night before. In the forest, the coffin lay in pieces without a trace of the Prince.
Over the years, humans and faes alike have learned to respect each other’s boundaries. But when the darkest evil begins to seep into the town, and the Sleeping Prince (now awake) on the loose, Ben and Hazel have taken the responsibility to protect their town and find the Prince before the town disappears into the forest. And as they race against time, Hazel’s secret life unfolds along with the barter she made with the fae in exchange for her brother’s prodigious musical ability.
It is amazing to see the dynamics of Ben and Hazel’s relationship flayed apart with every turn of the page. You see them as being as close as they are, but altogether far apart. To protect each other is the basest of their instincts and yet, there is a competing undertone of rivalry neither of them wanted to acknowledge. They’re never contemptuous and the reader can sense their love for each other. But amidst all that, there is a wide chasm that can only be bridged by Hazel’s and Ben’s admission of their guilt, lies, and hurt.
Hazel, in essence, has grown in spite of constant parental neglect, darkness and violence. And yet, she was not as psychotic as one would with her upbringing. Ben, in contrast, was the one who had their parents’ shower of affection (at least when they remember to act like parents). But Hazel never held it against Ben.
Speaking of sibling rivalries, this two have been in a romantic tussle against each other a couple of times. But again, they never talked about it and what they’d done to cause each other heartaches. They have this charisma that is irresistible to boys. Hazel uses hers to keep the boys away. She gave them false hopes only to ignore them soon after they fall for her charms. Ben, on the other hand, spent a lot of his time pining for the sleeping Prince in as much as his best friend, Jack pined for Hazel.
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST
Holly Black knows how to construct a dark world where mystical beings roam alongside humans. It is the kind of world building that meshes modern with the kind of visceral phantasm where one would think they’re in the throes of a drug-induced hallucination. It is scary as it is beautiful.
The Darkest Part of the Forest appeals to a lot of Young Adult fans. Holly Black knows how to create a digestible world; romances readers will pine for, and characters that are more relatable for their flaws.