Literature in Lockdown: Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest

Literature in Lockdown is a special blog series in which our students share what they’re reading whilst face-to-face teaching is suspended at YSJU. In our third post, recent YSJLit Graduate (of both our undergraduate and postgraduate Literature programmes!) Silje Tunes shares her reading experience of Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest, as well as talking about which TV-series she is currently watching.

I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling to be creative during this difficult time, neither the only one to sit in with a book in my hand, desperately trying to put my attention to the letters and words, and not reach for my phone to reach the latest news. But, I am forcing myself to leave my phone somewhere out of reach, and the thoughts of why I’m sitting inside are shoved out of my head.

The novel I’m currently reading is The Darkest Part of the Forest, a young adult contemporary fantasy by Holly Black. Some might recognise her for the Folk of Air trilogy, or the Spiderwick Chronicles.

In a town called Fairfold, humans and Folk (fairies) exist side by side. Deep in the forest lies a class coffin, inside it; a horned boy. For as long as they can remember, Hazel and Ben have loved the sleeping boy. They’ve spun tales of how they’ll be the knights saving him, the ones waking him from his hundred-years-sleep. But he never wakes up.

Until one day, he does, and Hazel and Ben’s lives are flipped on their heads as they suddenly come to realise the tales they’ve spun have only ever been fairy tales. For the boy soon proves to be everything they’ve never dreamt of him to be

Reading Black’s books always offers me the possibility of escaping reality, if only for a few hours a day. Her writing is incredibly easy to fall into. The way she uses pace and voice makes for a great adventure, as well as wonderful characterisation and setting. Black’s worldbuilding is fantastic; it truly shows that she cares about her writing, as well as giving justice to the magical creatures she creates in her novels. Reading fantasy has always been my kind of escapism, and Black delivers a well thought through fantasy novel with ease. She offers the readers to recognise themselves in so many of her characters, be it a fairy or a human. She fleshes out every single character and gives them an arc. It’s impossible not to care for her writing and the ones in it. I truly recommend her work to anyone wanting to read something fun, something that leaves you eager to read on. And last but not least; it’s a novel worth reading if you want to forget reality.

Though I try to read as much as I can, it’s not always easy at the moment, which is why I was thrilled when HBO announced the release date of the third season of their brilliant series, Westworld. I know there are a lot of people out there who can’t focus on reading, so I thought I might talk a little bit about a TV-series as well.

Westworld (2016) is based off the 1973 film with the same name. It just released its third season, much to my excitement. The story takes place in a Wild-West amusement park, occupied by the ‘hosts’ (androids). It is a place for humans to live out their wildest
desires, as the hosts cannot harm them, nor fight back. When a few hosts start acting odd, nearly human, a small group of scientists and programmers desperately try to figure out what is happening, never once asking themselves the question: can androids develop human consciousness? I truly recommend it if you want to spend some time mulling over a show, trying to solve the puzzles they lay before you. It’s a show that demands your full attention, but in a time where we’re desperate to escape reality, what can possibly be better?