The Darkest Part of the Forest

ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS CAME OUT WITH A NEW BOOK.

Last month I read Holly Black’s new book, and well. Holly Black.

d92ff30cffe83c0148d6f996fd147019The Darkest Part of the Forest

  • Author: Holly Black
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Year: 2015
  • Shelved In: Teen Fantasy and Adventure
  • Genre vibe: Fae fantasy, adventure stories
  • At a glance: Hazel is a reckless thing with a thirst for an adventure and no qualms about kissing any boy that’ll let her. After all, there’s not much else to do in her little town by the forest. Except maybe hunting for faeries. But she and her brother don’t do that anymore, because of Backstory and Secrets. Then things happen, like Hazel waking up covered in dirt and the glass coffin that houses their town’s main attraction (a beautiful fae boy that has been there for ages).

The Good Stuff

My feelings on this book are so…mixed. I think, in all honesty, I ought to read it again. I feel like I missed things. I feel like I didn’t get enough out of it. But I felt that same way the first time I read Coldest Girl in Coldtown the first time I read it.

There’s so many great things in this book. Hazel and Jack, for instance. Hazel and Ben, Ben in general, Severin, the magic system, the creepy as heck monsters. It’s all so good and so very, very, very Holly. But it hasn’t really stuck with me the way I thought it would, like Curse Workers did.

But I haven’t exactly forgotten it either. Which implies that I read it wrong and thus it is my fault for not completely taking it in. So I’m going to read it again eventually.

But I do know enough about it to say good things, so away we go.

Jack. Jack Jack Jack Jack. I probably have a soft spot for attractive changelings, but Jack was seriously an incredible character. It seemed like he had some of the best inner struggles out of everybody, even Ben. I’m enchanted by his character arc and his character in general.

And also by the Jack/Hazel ship. Liking this ship with a vengeance seems to put me in the minority among the fans, as far as I can tell. I think Jack and Hazel are a really great pairing and I honestly just think they work really well together.

And then Severin. Lovely Severin. What can I even say about Severin? I mean, what’s not to like? He’s…Severin. There really isn’t much to say. Fairy prince galore.

Which brings me to the magic, which was the absolute most memorable part of this book by far. Holly has always had come of the absolute coolest magic systems ever, and this book is no exception. The monsters are incredible, the fae are a suitably mixed bunch of slightly scary and merely faelike. Definitely my favorite part of the book.

Questions, Comments, Complaints?

spoilers following

Hazel…didn’t really seem like the main character. She seemed like a pair of eyes to see through. Ben’s voice was a lot more vibrant, and it’s possible that it’s because he doesn’t have secrets to keep from the reader. But what with Hazel’s whole night-and-day selves and her being the primary medium for backstory to be revealed, she seemed a little less like a person and a little more like just a story prop.

Overall

  • Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended to: People who don’t mind a book you have to think about, Holly Black fans (obviously), people who like the coolest magic ever
  • Lasting Impression: a forest monster slowly eating away the hallway of a highschool, bright green eyes looking into inhuman ones, and Hazel’s green earrings.

Book Review: The Replacement

In the continued adventures of Discovering Stiefvater and Co., we have another Yovanoff novel. It’s unfair how good it is, really.

51yk5jmd-wl-_ss500_The Replacement

  • Author: Brenna Yovanoff
  • Publisher: Razor Bill
  • Year: 2010
  • Shelved in: Teen fantasy and adventure
  • Genre vibe: Changeling stories, faerie fiction, paranormal romance, small-town-creepiness, atmospheric
  • At a glance: Mackie is not one of us, but he’s in love with each and every one of us. Unfortunately he’s stubborn as all heck and loyal to a fault and will do whatever it takes to protect both sides. Really, he just wants to do what’s right, and avoid as many creepy faeries as possible.

The Good Stuff

I’m in love. With this book as a whole, with Yovanoff’s writing, with the world, with the story itself, with the theme. And of course Mackie.

I’m behind, and so it’s been a good while since I finished this book. But in that amount of time I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and that, to me, is one of the greatest marks of a good book ever. If it lives on, it’s worth more than gold.

This book was so enjoyable and so interesting and so emotionally gripping. I couldn’t put it down, and I still haven’t. I wrote down more quotes and snippets from this book than I have in a while. It was beautiful, to put it bluntly.

Not to mention it has all of my favorite things in it. Magic things that edge towards the dark and terrifying, a hero with a heart of gold and no self-esteem and a bigger portion of bitterness than he really needs. Super interesting settings (the Starlight Music Hall, anyone? Seriously the best thing ever.) and an even better atmosphere on the whole.

It’s not often I find a book with my favorite things in it. This is one of them, and it’s also Yovanoff’s first novel. I’m admitting right now that her other works (aside from Fiendish) have never captured my interest. But now I’m going to have to put that aside and read ALL the Yovanoff novels because, well. This was beautiful, and it filled a need in my reading life that’s been underfed for a long time.

Questions, comments, concerns?

Can I read it again? Right now?

Overall

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: fans of really good faeries, people who just love a good hero, people looking for something to fall in love with.
  • Lasting impression: that dusty, toxic, incredible concert hall, and Mackie’s blood on the ground.

Book Review: The Girl from the Well

So I have two almost-finished reviews to post, but then I read this, and thought “what do schedules matter? This book is more important.” And it kind of is. Because it’s my first absolute favorite of the year, and I read it in a day and a half.

18509623The Girl from the Well

  • Author: RinChupeco
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • Year: 2014
  • Shelved in: Teen fantasy and adventure
  • Genre vibe: Ghost stories, Japanese lore, horror, supernatural
  • At a glance: Murders happen, you watch everything through the eyes of a ghost. Everything is beautiful and everything hurts.

The Good Stuff

I COULD GO ON FOR AGES. I’m at the point right now where mostly, I have a lot of emotions about how good this was. But really, really seriously, this book is incredible.

One of my favorite things ever is a good ghost story. In that genre, probably my favorite thing, hands down, is stories written from the eyes of a ghost. This book is one of the best ways I’ve ever seen it done. It’s peppered with things like this

girl from the well

which give the narrator an incredible, incredible personality. She is was a person, and she is a character, to the reader. But she’s also a powerful, ridiculously dangerous spirit. She is something other, something not natural, something supernatural, and even the writing portrays that beautifully.

One of the advantages (or disadvantages, I suppose) of having a narrator like this is that you can have your cake and eat it too if you like the flow of first person, but need the information and scope of third person. Okiku being a spirit and all, she can give us some insight to what the rest of the characters are feeling and thinking, without having to switch POV.

Lots of people would call this head hopping.

That’s exactly what it is, and that’s why it’s awesome. It’s a spirit hopping her energy focus from one head to the next, giving the reader a definite set of eyes to look through for the whole book, but providing insight enough to get emotion out of you for every character.

Interesting/different writing styles are another one of my favorite things, and this book completely satisfies.

Another thing it does incredibly well is characters. This book is very much a story, like most ghost books. Something like that carries a certain kind of detached, floating atmosphere, which is often very fitting. The Girl from the Well fits this bill, but also takes things a step further, using interactions and Okiku’s “head hopping” to actually connect the reader pretty intimately to a lot of the characters. You get to know the entire main cast almost just like you would in any other kind of book.

Almost being the key word, I suppose. Girl from the Well stays true to the ghost story vibe and keeps you just a little distanced. You, the reader, are becoming friends with Tarquin and Callie through Okiku who, being a little bit less than living herself, can never quite precisely know them.

All of it fits together like puzzle pieces glued perfectly into place. This book is seamless.

The last major point I have is that even the storytelling is superb. There are hints of a mystery feel at some points, and some other points are absolutely terrifying, and others are soft and sweet. The events of it are all neatly strung together and work with everyone in such a great way.

I want to read it again already.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

Can I make a beautiful dress out of the essence of this book and wear it everywhere because it makes me so happy?

Overall

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Fans of ghost stories, or people who can handle the scare and are interested in really cool writing and really awesome perspective.
  • Lasting impression: Cool water over your fingers and the gentle pressure of someone’s hand between your shoulders telling you it’s alright, while lightning breaks the sky overhead.