“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.”
I loved this book so much. This is going to be one-part review, & one-part of me gushing. Plan accordingly.
**You should also plan accordingly in that this review may contain spoilers. I’m sorry, I just really can’t help myself–sometimes I say too much in the hopes that someone might want to discuss aspects of the work with me. If that is the case, please feel free to do so in the comments section 🙂
Once upon a time, the little town of Fairfold had slumbering within it a mysterious Fae prince, housed in a glass coffin not unlike a certain one that comes to mind….
“Something even more dangerous than your prince walks in his shadow.”
It’s up to the gallant Hazel & her older brother Ben to decide what to do with the beautiful young man, & to put together all of the missing pieces to save not only the town, but themselves as well. This contemporary YA fairy tale is the perfect escape!
The first words of a novel are highly important; but sometimes the first words aren’t the most enthralling. Sometimes that comes right after–& Holly Black is GOOD at that. She paints a very pretty and at times grotesque picture that leaves me desperate for more.
“I am too much made of trees and leaves and open air,”
It feels like the first true, haunting fairy tail that I’ve read in ages. The mood is contagious and warm, yet chilling at the same time, with sincerely dark undertones. I loved the seriousness of it, and the anticipation of anytime I felt like something was about to happen. I loved the mystery in all of it–parts of it felt like there were things that had already happened in this book, like the reader is looking into the middle of the story; the timeline was spun in such a way to keep you guessing. (That’s one of my favorite things about this book–I couldn’t predict what would happen next.)
This fairy tale takes a more traditional route, focusing on the tricksters and the things that go bump into the night:
“Townsfolk knew to fear the monster coiled in the heart of the forest, who lured tourists with a cry that sounded like a woman weeping…it fed on sorrow and sowed corruption.”
The characters and relationships are complicated & realistic; while there is some romance in this story (& a healthy amount of representation, at that) I enjoy the fact that it focuses mainly on the sibling relationship between Hazel & Ben. The romance was there, but often not elaborated on. (The parts that were, were not overdone if that makes any sense.) There are several other aspects of the story that Holly decided to focus on, and they definitely shine!
The siblings were realistic in that they loved each other and were very close, however they were riddled with misunderstanding towards each other; it was always a game, as the reader, to guess which character knew what because they seemed to keep so much from each other (As real siblings tend to do.)
I liked that all of Holly’s characters were flawed in one way or another. There were times when I was frustrated and upset with Hazel, but could understand why she did what she did. That is good characterization, and helps the audience to connect more even if they don’t always agree with the character (yes Hazel, I’m still looking at you girl.) The same could be said for Ben, who wished too much to escape into the life of someone, anyone else. Or Jack, or Carter, or Amanda–everyone, whether they were a main or supporting character, came with their own thoughts and feelings and mistakes. This made me truly love them even more–these characters were no less deserving of love than any living, breathing human who could make the same mistakes.
I also LOVED that this book was a stand-alone; to me, it makes it feel that much more special 🙂 Lately I’ve been feeling like there is an over-saturation of trilogies and duologies in the YA market. I’m not saying that they’re all bad (I have read and loved many of them). I simply mean that sometimes I don’t want to commit to a book if I know I’m gonna have to wait a few years to finish the story or pay for two or three different installments, you know? I think some stories do much better as a stand alone, and this is one of them.
If you’re looking for a great escape, this novel will do just that for you. It’s a lovely balance of fantasy and realism, and helps you to question and understand some of the relationships in your own life. It even makes me want to believe that there is a little magic out there for me in this world 🙂 This is one that I will keep on my bookshelf indefinitely, to be read and loved many times!
I’m thrilled to see that Holly has another Fae novel coming out in January of 2018–
Have you read this book, or any others by Holly Black? What did you think? I would love your honest opinions below!