Black, Holly. The Darkest Part of the Forest. Little, Brown BFYR. 2015.
Hazel and her brother Ben live in Fairfold, a small town that is located in a forest filled with Fae. Locals know to always carry salted oatmeal and iron nails in their pockets and to wear their socks inside-out, but the tourists who flock to the town often make silly mistakes and end up injured or disappearing altogether. The tourists come to town to see the prince who sleeps in a glass coffin in the woods. In all their years in town, no matter what anyone does on/near/to the coffin, the prince has never moved. Then one day the town wakes up to discover the coffin smashed and no prince in sight. Hazel wakes up with twigs in her hair and dirt on her feet. Did she open the coffin? How? And what will happen now that the prince is loose?
This is a delightful fantasy story with one foot in reality and the other in fantasy. I enjoyed the magical creepiness of the story as well as the gaps where the reader just didn't know what happened and has to keep turning pages to find out. Another thing I appreciated was the fact that Ben is gay, but it's not a big deal. Not only is he already out, but he isn't teased, but his parents/family/town accept his orientation just as they would his eye or hair color. In fact, he and his sister often pine after the same guys. This is a great fantasy/adventure story that isn't very scary and would be an easy recommend to teens and tweens.
Recommended for: tweens, teens
Red Flags: the teens often party on/around the coffin, usually with alcohol; lots of making out and sex mentioned, but nothing graphic happens in the story itself
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars
Read-Alikes: Afterworlds, Belzhar, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer