Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I have been pretty off and on with Holly Black’s books lately. I loved her Modern Fairy Tale series, but didn’t not enjoy her Curse Workers series at all. This book is a stand alone young adult dark fairy tale. I really really enjoyed this book it reminded me of Black’s early Modern Fairy Tale books which are my favorite books by Black.
Hazel and her brother Ben live in the town of Fairfield. Fairfield is a place where fae and humans dwell side by side. Generally if you are native to Fairfield you are safe, however if you are a tourist you are fair game for the fey. However, that is starting to change as the fey get more and more violent. The main draw of Fairfield is a horned boy who sleeps in a glass coffin in the forest; he never wakes and the coffin appears to be indestructible. Then one morning Hazel wakes up all muddy with glass in her hands and coincidentally that same morning the glass coffin is shattered and the Horned Boy is free. However there are darker and more evil things in the forest than a Horned Boy; the Alderking dwells there as well and he has monsters of his own.
This book really reminded me of Black’s earlier works, especially the Modern Fairy Tale series. It has a very dark fairy tale vibe to it and is all about bargains gone wrong and the lies they force our characters to ravel. While it is not disturbingly vicious or graphic, it is a very dark story. It’s a story where the best of intentions can lead to awful situations.
The book was beautifully written, very engaging, and does a great job of capturing the darkness and oddness of Faerie. I love reading about the Fae and this book does a great job with that subject matter; Black obviously did her research.
The characters are very complex and human and at the same time a bit strange. As the story progresses we find out that Hazel and Ben used to hunt down the Fae. Hazel is an amazing character she is wild, yet strong and determined. Hazel has a thing about loving to kiss boys, she loves the excitement of it and leaves a trail of broken hearts behind her. Hazel has a sort of momentum and magnetism to her personality that she is not at all aware of. Hazel’s greatest dream was to be a knight and protect Fairfield from the Fae the surround it. Hazel’s other greatest dream is that her brother Ben gets to live the life he wants and to this extinct she makes a bargain with the Alderking that has horrible repercussions.
Ben is a complex character in his own right. He received a magical gift for music as a child, but his gift brings him nothing but misery. Ben has also struggled a bit with his sexuality (he is gay). Ben is also desperately in love with the Horned Boy, but he keeps this secret.
The other main character in the book is Jack, Jack is a changeling and has been raised by a human family. When the Fae start to get more aggressive a lot of people start blaming him for their aggressiveness.
The book was beautifully written and there were some parts that were so good they actually gave me chills. One of these parts is when the monster Sorrow invades their school; it was so well written, so creepy, and so magical all at the same time.
Overall I absolutely adored this book. It is one of the best Holly Black books I have read in a long time (although I really loved The Iron Trial as well). This story is wild, magical, and terribly beautiful all at the same time. I loved the characters, the subject matter, and the idea of this strange Horned Boy trapped forever in a glass coffin made of tears. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend to those who love reading about Faerie in all of its Grimm Brothers-like glory.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge