The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black Readalong Part One

ARTWORK by chic2view from

Wotcha all. I’d not really intended to take part in this readalong – was part of the other one, too much to do, all that – but I saw it in the library and thought “why not’?

So here we are and here’s my answers. If you’re interested in taking part the schedule can be found here at Dear Geek Place, and each week’s prompts are being posted on Twitter (join the read-along community over there to get access).

And just in case it wasn’t obvious… spoilers!

Week 1: Chapter 1 through Chapter 5

All is fair in Fairfold… or is it? What are your thoughts on the way of life in this particular bubble? What do you make of the folk of Fairfold, both Fair and mundane?

I’ve got to say that for a lot of this section I was wondering why on earth the good folk of Fairfold were sticking around with the fair folk. It’s not like there’s a shortage of places to live in modern America and the neighbours seem really bloody lousy. We do get told that sometimes the faeries do good things as well as bad, but the balance seems off.

That said, when we get told about Hazel’s and Ben’s mum deciding that sketching the elf was a great idea, it clicks. There’s always one, isn’t there? Someone who has to live on the edge, someone who knows bad things will happen but thinks it’ll never happen to them… well, actually, there’s usually a good deal many more than one, and here’s a bunch of them in a community. Throw in some classic “we’ve always lived by the volcano and by gum I’ll die by this volcano” stubborness and I can see it.

So that’s impression of the mortal folk of Fairfold. It’s a town that’s high on romanticism, optimism, and sheer damn orneryness. Yes, they do have a certain amount of fear and caution as well, and a certain amount of double thought going on to be both at once, but I don’t think those are the dominant traits.

As for the fae… well, they’re the fae, aren’t they? I am intrigued as to why they’ve been getting more malevolent and less playful though.

We need to talk about Hazel. 

How much impending trouble do you think our ‘hero’ is about to get into? Also: how much of that trouble do you think she’s going to be responsible for?

Well, there is a book about this, so quite a lot. And from what I know of Holly Black’s reputation, I don’t think she’s about to throw softballs.

So the big question is how much of this is on her and that’s… interesting. Her pact with the Alderking’s folk is one hundred per cent going to bite her on the posterior, but how much blame do you think is due to a young kid trying to clean up someone else’s mess? Part two of the likely trouble is the horned prince going walkabouts and right now, I’m really not sure that’s got anything to do with Hazel.

That all said, I’m sure she’s got some choices coming up, and I feel fairly sure that Hazel will be rushing in where angels fear to tread. I don’t think Hazel seems like she’ll be the architect of the troubles she’s about to be in, but I do think that once having walked into the house this architect built, she’s going to get nice and comfy and hang out, if you get what I mean.

Speaking of Hazel, let’s talk about her and Ben’s parents. Are they simply misguided romantics, or do you think they’re Bad Parents?

*lets out explosive breath of air*

Parenting is hard. I’ve not done it in more than a surrogate role for a few hours at a time, but I’ve obviously watched a lot of it. Some things in life come with so much difficulty, so much friction and uncertainty, that even mediocrity is an achievement. Parenting is one of those things. I also think most parents will admit there’s been events where they underestimated a child’s capacity for chaos, or had to juggle too many things, and their child put themselves in danger. Most of them are lucky and nothing major happens. Some aren’t.

As such, given that Ben and Hazel are alive, healthy, happy as most people, mostly fulfilling the potential we see, I’m reluctant to call them bad parents, but…

Their kids do have some major bad faerie mojo on them. Some of that’s bad luck rather than good. Some of that’s the parents being pretty reckless. Maybe one day I’ll let my future kids run around a forest where I can’t see them, but not if I know it’s got lots of adders. Fairfold’s got a lot worse than adders. What I said about all the stubborn romantic optimism? Exhibit A, followed by Exhibit B of Jack and Carter’s mum. Refusing to consider this and believing it’ll all be alright is more than being misguided romantics. I’m still reluctant to brand them as bad parents, but they’re more than misguided.

That’s me all caught up. Time to catch up on other’s posts and join the twitter group.

4 thoughts on “The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black Readalong Part One

  1. Oh I’m completely with you on the subject of Hazel and Ben’s parents (although they are getting a little side-eye from me now that I’ve read the next section).

    Liked by 1 person

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