The Darkest Part of the Forest

by Holly Black
First sentence: “Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin.”
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Content: There’s a few f-bombs and some teen drinking at the beginning. And some intense kissing, not to mention violence. It’s in the Teen section (grades 9+) of the bookstore.

Siblings Hazel and Benjamin have grown up in Fairfold, where they know that faeries are in the forest. They know not to mess with the fairies, but since Ben was blessed (cursed) to make gorgeous music as a child and Hazel has always been drawn to the forest, they really didn’t listen. They made up stories about the prince that was in the glass coffin, they fought some bad faeries, and Hazel even made a bargain with the Alderking to help with Ben getting some musical training.

But all that was in the past. Hazel, now 16, is reckless with boys’ hearts and Ben stopped making music years ago.

And now the prince in the coffin is awake and Hazel’s life is falling apart. The question is whether or not Hazel can figure things out before her life is completely destroyed.

I love Black’s storytelling. Wholly and completely. She pulls you into the world she creates, and makes you believe everything she writes. I loved Hazel in her brokenness, and her relationship with Ben. I loved that there were faerie characters and human characters in all shades of the rainbow (both in terms of skin color and morality). I loved the myth she spun around the town and these characters, and the way she worked with the whole idea of the fey.

I just loved the book. Period.

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Cuckoo Song

by Frances Hardinge
First sentence: “Her head hurt.”
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Review copy left for me by the publisher rep.
Comtent: It’s more than a bit creepy, and it’s slow (like many Hardinge) books. I’ll probably put it in the YA section (grades 6-8), but I’d give it to a 10-year-old who showed interest and was willing to be patient with it.

I have not read everything Hardinge has read, but what I’ve read I’ve (almost) wholeheartedly loved. She is not an easy author to love; she makes you work for the story, often having a very slow start and building from there. Cuckoo Song was no different in that respect. It was a slow and somewhat confusing beginning, one that took me a bit to get into.

Triss has been ill for a good long while. She is Delicate, and often prone to Sickness. And so when she wakes after an accident during her family’s vacation no one seems to think that anything is the matter. Except she feels like something is … off. And her younger sister, Pen, (with whom she has always had a contentious relationship) is screaming awful things at her. ¬†And so Triss does what any 12-year-old would do: she tries to figure out what’s wrong with her. And the deeper she goes into that mystery, the more she discovers that there are things Wrong with her family in some very dark (and somewhat magical) ways. And it’s probably up to her and Pen to fix things.

I don’t want to give away too much because much of what I loved about this was the slow realization of what was going on. There’s a reason the beginning is slow and confusing: Triss, herself, is slow and confused. The reader figures things out as Triss does, peeling one glorious, dark, delicious layer back after another. And no to worry: once the story really gets going, Hardinge’s writing is so lyrical it pulls you in, increasing the tension until the immensely satisfying ending.

It’s absolutely wonderful.

Fragile Eternity

by Melissa Marr
ages: 14+
First sentence: “Seth knew the moment Aislinn slipped into the house; the slight rise in temperature would’ve told him even if he hadn’t seen the glimmer of sunlight in the middle of the night.”

I don’t know if it’s me, or the book, or my waning interest in the world, but I just couldn’t get into the story.

I tried; I gave it 150 pages, but everything was so angst-y, and off-kilter and… well, let’s just say that every single character, even Seth and Aislinn, was driving me bonkers.

So, I skipped forward, read the last four chapters to see how it ended, and then bailed. (Hey, at least I know how it ends…)

For more legitimate reviews, check out Becky’s or Softdrink’s or Amy’s.