A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Occasional references to folk songs and legends including Tam Lin. One of the characters quotes a German poem.
Loyalty, friendship, the bond between siblings, courage.
Positive Role Models
Most characters, including the protagonists, are well-meaning but frequently weak and confused. Hazel and Ben's artist parents are loving but flaky. "If there was another part of her that wished her parents were the kind who might protect her from needing to kill monsters all on her own, at eleven she already knew that was unrealistic. It wasn't as if her parents didn't love her; it was just that they forgot things a lot and sometimes those things were important." Two village parents stand out in their determination to protect their kids against both the village and the Folk.
Violence & Scariness
A monster kills a dog. A faery character describes how he killed his sister's human husband. The faeries, aka the Folk, kill tourists in horrific fashion. "Some got dragged down into Wight Lake by water hags, bodies cracking the dense mat of algae, scattering the duckweed. Some would be run down at twilight by horses with ringing bells tied to their manes and members of the Shining Folk on their backs. Some would be found strung upside down in trees, bled out and chewed upon." A musically gifted character smashes his hand in a car door.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's intense boy-girl, boy-boy, girl-girl, and mortal-faery kissing as a regular occurrence, and one make-out scene involves partial nudity. "Hazel kissed boys for all kinds of reasons -- because they were cute, because she was a little drunk, because she was bored, because they let her, because it was fun, because they looked lonely, because it blotted out her fears for a while, because she wasn't sure how many kisses she had left." A boy character flirts with two girls, "clearly hoping for a best friends sandwich that was never, ever, ever going to happen." Hazel and her brother both fantasize about romance with the horned boy who's sleeping the centuries away in the forest.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Teen characters routinely use vulgar language and profanity, including "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "boobs," "pissed," and so on. "Hell" and "damn" also come up occasionally.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Frequent mention of commercial products (iPod, ChapStick, Volkswagen, Hollister) and musical artists (Nick Drake), more for scene-setting than promotion. Hazel and her brother, Ben, were both "named, humiliatingly, after famous rabbits" (from Watership Down and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Getting drunk (and making out with random people) is a regular activity among Fairfold's teens.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Doll Bones, The Spiderwick Chronicles) finds confused small-town teens dealing with hormones, boredom, and their town's strange relationship with the supernatural Folk who live in the forest. The Folk have killed humans in horrific ways, including drowning and running them over with horses. The glass coffin in the woods, in which an enchanted faery boy sleeps away the centuries, has been the site of drunken teen make-out parties for generations. Protagonist Hazel, 16, has been slaying monsters since she was 11 (when a monster killed her dog); she also flirts with and kisses every boy in town, for reasons even she doesn't understand. Make-out scenes abound (with opposite-sex, same-sex, and human-faery couples), one of which involves partial nudity. Characters, especially teens, use lots of strong language, including "s--t" and "f--k."
Is It Any Good?
Genre fans will find this a fun read, though even they may get bogged down in the tortuously convoluted cosmology and wonder if the ending is enough of a payoff for all the turmoil leading up to it. Others may lose patience. Along the way, there are some interesting vignettes of small-town life -- and how even good people often behave badly when they're scared.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.