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

Wotcha all, and welcome to week two of the Wyrd and Wonder read-along for the Darkest Part of the Forest, which I’m really getting into. This week the awesome Ariana from The Book Nook is posing the questions and keeping us on the path. So let’s get going.

Week 2: Chapters 6 through 11

WE’VE SEEN A BIT MORE OF HAZEL IN THIS NEXT SECTION, AS WELL AS BRIEF POINTS OF VIEW FROM BEN AND JACK. HOW ARE WE FEELING TOWARDS THIS TRIO AND THEIR DYNAMICS?

Adorable little scamps the lot of them.

I really like how they pull and tug at each other, and I really like all of them. Hazel’s my sort of protagonist – she wants things, she goes after things, she’s as brave and kind as can be. Is this going to result in some arrant stupidity? Do ursine mammals defecate in arboreal habitats? But sooner or later everyone is stupid, and she’s going to be stupid for mostly the right reasons, and in the meantime she is charming, determined, and making shit happen. Big Hazel fan.

Which is why I hope Jack kisses her like he’s a shark and she’s blood in the water, which he does seem to be thinking about. Charmingly primal expression that by the way. Anyway, he seem a nice enough boy, although mostly he’s just charisma and secrets at this point. But his spiritual kinship to Ben makes him come alive. Ben’s self-fear, and longing for love, and seeming mix of attraction and distrust to, well, just about everything, comes over sharp, very human. He seems a good kid about it.

ON THE TOPIC OF DYNAMICS, WHAT DO WE THINK OF THE SIBLINGS NOW THAT WE’VE SEEN A BIT MORE OF BEN AND HAZEL’S HISTORY? DO YOU THINK THEY CAN COME OUT OF EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING WITH AN INTACT RELATIONSHIP?

I want to say yes. I think they come across as tight, as emotionally intelligent, and forgiving in most situations.

But.

Insofar as I understand it, Holly Black has a reputation for putting characters through it. Some books you know will end up alright on the night. Some are obviously looking to subvert expectations. I’m not sure which type of book this is, but if I knew I’d have a far better guess. I’m rooting for them though.

WE’VE FINALLY CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF THE HORNED PRINCE, SEVERIN. WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK HIS STORY AND INTENTIONS MIGHT BE?

Well first off, I agree with Mayri that his reaction to their offer of help and friendship – “I am no hob or hearth spirit, to be obligated by gifts” – was a highlight line. Alien patterns of thought allied to very human touchiness.

It’s that combination which makes me like him as a character from the get-go. He feels very fae, but I can understand him. He’s just another young man raised to see the world in hard lines under a lot of stress. But there’s a ton of mystery about why he sees the world like that, what stress he’s under, and so on. If I had to guess, he meant to stuff the Alderking in that tomb and plans to make up for lost time now he’s out. But… I doubt it will be that obvious?

“THE CITY’S A LOT LIKE THE DEEP, DARK FAIRY-TALE WOODS OF FAIRFOLD, RIGHT?” BEN ASKS HAZEL IN A FLASHBACK SCENE. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS COMPARISON AND ITS IMPLICATIONS?

Seems pretty fair. If you don’t know them, they’re exotic, hard to navigate, offering everything but for hard prices.

As a born and bred Londoner who spends their days just doing ordinary life shit, obviously it’s only like that if you want it to be… but then, Ben wants it to be, right? Everyone thinks super cosmic wisdom and the answer to all their dreams must be somewhere very different, because they ain’t in front of them.

FINAL RANDOM THOUGHTS:

I’m rubbish at unravelling stuff but I have some big questions about who’s been piloting Hazel, her sword, and so on.

Hmm. Here’s a thought. Why did the fae break custom and do a changeling swap with the two boys?

Other than that… it’s just a lot of fun. Onwards!

7 thoughts on “The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black Readalong Part Two

  1. You seem to be having a lot of fun with this one, which I love! I am also very curious as to what is up with Hazel… would it be too extreme for it to be the Alderking himself? Perhaps, or perhaps not…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been toying with the idea it might be Jack, but that doesn’t fit right. Still… there doesn’t seem to be an obvious candidate, does there?

      *pause* Although we do know that Jack can make someone do something and never remember it…

      Like

  2. “Here’s a thought. Why did the fae break custom and do a changeling swap with the two boys?”

    This is precisely why I’m both wary of, and weary of, the people of Fairfold. They’ve basically spent all this time giving the Fae quite a bit more than an inch. It makes perfect sense that sooner or later, they’d attempt to take a mile.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If there’s one thing that doesn’t work for me about this book, it’s that I don’t get why Fairfold exists. I know that humans are stubborn and irrational, but I’d like there to be something more. I handwave it because it needs to exist for the book, but…

      That said – why that mile? It feels like something ripe for a later reveal. But we will see (is this a reread for you?)

      Liked by 1 person

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