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Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2016
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 8h 39m
Publisher: Hachette Audio⎮2015
5★ Audiobook⎮ I started The Darkest Part of the Forest on a whim yesterday, even though it’s been on my TBR for more than a year. I had no prior idea of what it was about. I listened to the first 7 hours of it straight through, absolutely mesmerized and unable to stop.
Holly Black isn’t exactly new to me. I have several of her books on my TBR, but this was my first experience listening to her work. After finishing The Darkest Part of the Forest, I completely understand why she’s so talked about. Her writing was absolutely lovely and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Hearing The Darkest Part of the Forest was like listening to a modern fairytale. The combination of contemporary life coexisting alongside fae legend provided a unique foundation for the story. The only other fairy fiction I’ve heard is that of Sarah J. Maas, but The Darkest Part of the Forest was very different and I daresay I prefer it. The whole story flowed extremely well, which made listening nearly effortless.
This was a magical story with beautifully written relationships. Black busted so many YA tropes wide open. I adored Hazel and Ben’s sibling relationship. They were a team. Hazel, in particular, was an excellent character. Hazel was a vulnerable dreamer by day and a fearless warrior by night. She was a teenage girl, but Hazel Evans was no whiny damsel. I also found Ben to be an incredibly interesting character and I wish we had been given more insight into his character, perhaps in first-person form.
I found the characters to be written in a very progressive and “unproblematic” manner, which I loved. One scene that stands out as having a wonderful underlying message was when Hazel was the target of unwanted affections. She blamed herself, as so many young women do, but her brother adamantly rebuffed the notion that any of it was Hazel’s fault. That scene got me right in the “feels”. I wish more YA authors would use their literary platforms to send such healthy and positive messages.
Overall, I give The Darkest Part of the Forest a standing ovation. The more I think about it, the more I love it. If this had been a series, I would already be halfway through the next installment. I can’t wait to hearing more from Holly Black. Luckily, there is plenty available. All of her books just got a major boost in my listening pile.
Narration review: Lauren Fortgang was tremendous. Her narration went hand in hand with Black’s writing to produce an incredible listening experience. Not only did she have a beautiful vocal timbre, but her range of characterization was enormous. Even when voicing the same character, Fortgang adjusted her narration to fit particular conversations. The narration just felt so authentic. At some points, her voicing of “Sorrow” literally gave me chills. My spine is tingling just remembering it. Fortgang has instantly become one of my favorite narrators, meaning I will scoop up anything she’s worked on. No questions asked. ♣︎