Holly Black's new YA novel asks what happens when the man in the woods wakes up? [Review]

Holly Black's new YA novel asks what happens when the man in the woods wakes up? [Review]


The Darkest Part of the Forest
By Holly Black 
Published by Indigo/ Orion 
ISBN 978 1 78062 173 9

In the darkest part of the forest near the town of Fairfold, there is a glass coffin. It has been there forever, and the residents just accept it as part of their town.

Inside the coffin lies a sleeping stranger with horns protruding from either side of his head. Many questions surround the identity of the sleeper, with few answers.

Though some have tried to wake the young man, the townspeople know he is not mortal and believe he will never come to life. He is just the sleeping man in the forest, and it is best for everyone to let him be.

Fairfold is a small town in America like no other. Fairy folk share the location with the ordinary mortals who live there. For longer than anyone cares to remember, fairies have lived alongside humans with only occasional trouble. They're even a tourist attraction that provides the human population with an easy source of income.

Fairfold dwellers Hazel and Ben's parents have always believed in bringing up children with no rules; now the siblings are in their teens, they spend their time running wild, and edging very close to potentially dangerous blows with the magic that hovers just out of human reach in Fairfold.

Hazel has wild red hair and a personality to match. Ben is withdrawn, artistic and obsessed with the sleeping man. The two of them enjoy a healthy sibling rivalry, but they are both keeping dangerous secrets from each other. And the fairies are watching and waiting.

Since they were young, Hazel and Ben have been inventing stories about the man in the glass coffin. They have decided he's a prince, waiting for the right time to wake up and reclaim his kingdom.

The imaginative siblings never would have expected him to ever wake up. But one day he does, and Fairfold finds itself facing a danger that threatens both humans and fairies and could wipe the town off the Earth.

Best-selling US author Holly Black has written a modern fairy tale with all the dark and disturbing echoes of classic European stories. This fairy story isn't a cute tale with sparkly spells and a smiley, happy ending. Among the magic, Black embraces the usual themes of peer pressure, first love, rivalry and keeping secrets, but treats them with a freshness that perfectly fits the story she is telling.

This is a read for older teens with a liking for dark, richly-imagined worlds. Holly Black is on fine form with her latest novel, and her many fans will not be disappointed.

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
What happens when the man in the woods wakes up?


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