cover image The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Holly Black, read by Lauren Fortgang. Hachette Audio, , unabridged, 8 CDs, 8.5 hrs., $25 ISBN 978-1-4789-5589-4

Fairfold is a contemporary American town long beset by fairies. This isn’t a secret—it’s a tourist attraction that provides the citizens with a healthy source of income (although the visitors do occasionally get eaten by the more dangerous fairies). Hazel, a local high school student, is in love with the town’s biggest tourist attraction, a fairy prince who has slept for generations in a glass coffin in the forest, as is Ben, her older brother. Meanwhile, things have been unbalanced in Fairfold ever since a mortal woman refused to return a changeling—who grew up to be Hazel and Ben’s friend Jack—to the fairies. Fortgang reads with a smooth, calm voice that guides listeners through the jumble of characters and landscapes in Black’s supernatural tale. Still, listeners are likely to be confused by the content. The modern references (to the show Mad Men, social media, and cellphones, for examples) seem out of place and jolt, reminding us that the story takes place in the present, antithetical to what we are feeling from the mishmash of different literary genres and techniques employed. Without Fortgang’s confident and expressive voice, it would be a much more exhausting effort to follow Black’s progression into the many rabbit holes making up the bulk of this saga. Ages 12–up. [em]A Little, Brown hardcover. (Jan.) [/em]