It’s been a weird last week of May, so I’m getting to this later than I would like, but at last I am able to sit down and discuss my final thoughts on Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest, which was one of our readalong titles for this year’s Wyrd and Wonder! This week the questions were provided by Lisa at Dear Geek Place, who also hosted the readalong, and thank you so much for a great time! In this final section, all the showdowns happen, so let’s get going, and please beware of spoilers!
Let’s talk about the reveal of Ainsel’s identity! Did this surprise you?
Yes and no… yes, because I didn’t quite see it coming, but no because it didn’t surprise me when it was revealed. It just sort of made sense, even if I hadn’t quite predicted it. I wish we’d had a bit more time to sit with it, actually, or a few more hints throughout the book other than that moment when Hazel wakes up covered in dirt and blood. Like a few little mysteries that seem minor confusions at the time and then make you go ‘oooh!’ when you realise. Very cool, though, and I liked the story that came with it.
Regarding Hazel’s plot to outwit the Alderking: do you think this makes sense now that we have the full picture?
Again, I wish there had been more work done before hand. For a good chunk of the book the Alderking doesn’t even seem to be a very important character, he’s just there in the background as a known presence. He takes up a bit more of a role when we discover he is Severin’s father, but the attention is still focused on Sorrow. Which I suppose makes sense as a red herring of a villain. It is not surprising in the least that night-Hazel would be plotting to take down the Alderking, though, because even if she has been influenced by the Folk, she is clearly still the sword-wielding, monster-slaying girl we get to know during the day.
I’m surprised she doesn’t recruit anyone else, though. Like Jack. Hello?? He’s right there pining after you!! I know she wasn’t allowed to tell her day-self about this secret life, but I don’t recall there being any limitation on telling anyone else…
Team Jack can rest easy! How did you feel about his decision to stay in Fairfold (and defy his Fae mother)?
Oh, Jack. I have said this before but I would read an entire book from Jack’s point of view, especially if it was as heart wrenching as him living a life he knows will end, even if he will carry on. In some ways, that might be too cruel to read about, though… I am a little more sympathetic towards his Fae mother now that we know why she hid him, but it must be so hard for Jack to feel unwanted on both sides of his existence.
All I can say is that I wish him all the happiness in the world and lots of make-out sessions with Hazel.
Ben gets the happy ending he always wanted, and Hazel becomes a true hero at last. Thoughts and feelings?
I do have to admit that this story had a much happier ending than I thought it would, and while I’m relieved, I’m also disappointed. Give me more angst!! But I am very glad Ben gets to do music again, because that was something I kept thinking about. It seems that the kids are alright, after all. No thanks to their parents of course, what with the horrible little trip down memory lane by Hazel. I am fully of the opinion that one can be a parent and not lose all of their other aspects of their lives (I hope so, anyway) but YOU HAVE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE CHILD TOO! Anyway, at least they somewhat realised they weren’t great and Hazel had a little moment with her mom.
(Bonus question) Overall, how do you feel about the ending, and about the pacing of these final chapters compared to the rest of the book?
I do have to be honest and say that I don’t think this book benefitted from being a readalong book… don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad to have read it, and I liked reading it along with everyone else and some of the mad theories we threw around near the beginning, but it’s the kind of book that benefits from being rushed through, because in between the urgency vanishes. The second half also felt a bit stilted in terms of the pacing… everything is very moderately paced until then – things are definitely happening quickly, but we have time to adjust. Whereas from the moment Sorrow appears, everything goes a bit mad!
Side note on the topic of Sorrow/Sorrel – is she just going to forgive her brother now? I know Severin was acting on their father’s orders and has repented of killing her husband, but are they not even going to have words?? Hmm…
And there you have it! Overall, very glad to have finally read a Holly Black book – she’s one of those inescapable names at the moment, but her main series didn’t hold a lot of appeal to me. But I really liked her writing and the way she integrated the fae and the real world, so thank you again Lisa for choosing The Darkest Part of the Forest!