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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: More malevolent fairy folk in publishing! More!

I've been a fan of Holly Black since The Spiderwick Chronicles, which if you aren't aware are five books (but basically one decently long book) about some siblings who find a field guide that shows how to identify/deal with various fairy (sorry, "faerie") creatures, and then the faerie creatures are pissed off and want the guide, so there is a CONFLICT. The important part of the series is that the creatures are awesome to read about.

Black worked on Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi, who is the ONLY author or illustrator I wanted to meet at BEA because his Spiderwick Field Guide is ridiculously beautiful and I'm never parting with it.


But they parted ways and Holly Black is now writing pretty awesome dark books for middle grade to maybe high school? Maybe? I don't know what the kids can handle these days, to be quite honest, but I don't think I'd let a 12-year-old read Darkest Part of the Forest since it has 17-year-olds talking about having sex in a pretttttty casual way and TEENAGERS HAVE ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH. Also teenagers having sex leads to Romeo/Juliet-type shit because they're dumb and don't understand areas of grey yet, so things are Everything or Nothing.


But as to the actual book The Darkest Part of the Forest! There are two siblings, Ben and Hazel, and they live in a town called Fairfold, and that town is basically located at the Hellmouth (Buffy? anyone?), but for faerie stuff. Tourists visit because it has this reputation, and it ALSO has a boy with horns (fun sheep horns from what I can tell) lying in a glass coffin in the forest. Like Snow White! But with a dude!

Hazel's life doesn't have a lot of direction....or DOES it? Because there are Secrets! Dark Secrets! And there's something in the darkest part of the forest (like in the title!) that might be coming out.

This was a quick read. I'm liking Holly Black more and more. I like that her faerie folk are Srs Biznis and not wispy hippie faeries. I'm pretty excited to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which I got from Little, Brown, along with this book, because I asked them and they are nice people who believe in having their books reviewed). I had a weird thought process when there was an LGBT storyline and I was kind of "Oh, this is into Being Inclusive," but then I was like "It's not an LGBT storyline! It's a storyline! You are being terrible about your own people! And don't call them your people!"

But no, Black handles the LGBT part really well, and it kind of goes along with the "take back the night" mentality I've stubbornly espoused regarding fairytales and minority representation. If Neil Gaiman's doing it (sort of) in The Sleeper and the Spindle and Holly Black's doing it in The Darkest Part of the Forest, maybe -- MAYBE Once Upon a Time will stop having such a stick up its butt about it and realize fairytales do not only have to involve straight white people.

Ok, they're all still white. BUT STILL. (x)


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