The Darkest Part Of The Forest by Holly Black

By  Hina Rafique

The latest buzz The Darkest Part Of the Forest, recently published, is a Pastoral Fantasy in the row of Child Fantasy Literature, by the American Novelist Holly Black written mainly by focusing on a town Fairfold. The story centers around  the  romantic figure  of a  faerie prince(the horn boy) casting a magical spell over the readers, who has been sleeping in the woods since centuries, never meant to wake up, always lying in the magic glass casement. Children from the Fairfold school, mothers, and heartbroken lovers used to share untold stories and secrets to him, making him their sole confessor. Actually” the whole town is in love” with him as Holly Black states. But the magic is reversed when unexpectedly horn boy comes out of his glass case one night, giving everyone the shocks of unbelievable mystery.

Another important character Hazel, a naughty flirtous girl, the would be knight takes the duty to rescue the prince, and fairfold people. According to her, “lf Hazel closed her eyes, she could conjure the image of him.” But “She hated him for being woken up and being real and stealing her dreams of him away. He wasn’t their prince anymore”. The hazel herself is in love with the romance of being associated with the faerie prince.

Let’s talk about the Fairfold first. About Fairfold we have been told “Fairfold is the strange place. Dead in the center of the Carling forest, the haunted forest, full of…..the folk of the Air” (03). That’s why Fairfold was special, because it was, so close to magic.”(09).So magic, mystery, faeries, unusual happenings, gifted abilities people, sinister elements are all, the text is about!! It is indeed” the quaintest and the cookiest place” according to the writer. The numerous references to silver bowls, the prince as horn boy, the knife, green apples, blood, snake women,  cauldrons of weeds” “monsters lurking in the forest” are to be found in the text..According to the author mothers used to sing songs to their children. “There is monster in our wood…She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks”. The magic statements and magic codes, infact uneven words are also in abundance in the narrative like “Dead and gone and bones.” and the very “wakey wakey Eggs and bakey” like nursery rhymes.

There would be no exaggeration if the text would be taken or analyzed as a magical realist romance, since the reader travels in two worlds, the world of reality and unreality during the reading of this text. Holly Black has employed gothic, and magical realism in the broad domain of its basic genre fantasy.

The main action focuses on Hazel, who” was lured by stories of the beauty and wonder of the folk. She d hunted them and loved them, but, like the rest of the fairfold, she loved them too.” She is ready to make people of Fairfold safe on one hand and focuses on her knighthood responsibilities on the other hand. Her repetitive utterance “I’m the knight, I’m the knight” with her possession of two swords inculcates and confirms her image of being the knight. In this battle between fairies and mortals, it is she who wins at last at the end.

Stylistically, the text is rich in diverse type of imagery employed by the author ranging from  Pastoral imagery ….the very flora and fana ( reference to trees, woods, rivers, forests, flowers,), floral imagery (trees, walnuts, moss), fruit imagery (berries, Black berries, leaves of fruits, chanterelles), colour imagery( like “Bubbling red” his moss green eyes”) to the goethic, sinister magic invested imagery presenting before us a world full of romance and colours. Where we have air full of music, and faeries talking to mortals, and mortals interacting with them.

The language has sonorous/ musical and rhythmic effect because of one word repetition specially alliteration like “wind whipped” “blank blackness”. “Besides, distinct/pair repetitions are also in abundance like the very   words “nixie,pixie and sprite” have!! .Because of this stylistic device introduced by the author, the reader feels a kind of rhythmic effect in reading the text where words appear in the sets as if the writer has taken a pain to arrange them so, like “Full moon tomorrow night”“gloom and also doom”, Witches and wizards” and “mystey and moth eaten” “Even the full lines have the repetitive words connotation rhythm like “She started to speak, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to stop”. The musicality maintains because of sssss sounds in the above mentioned line.

The text is post modern in nature since its capacity to possess post modern references is great. Holly Black has also talked about youngsters taking selfies, near horn boy glass case, what makes this text a post modern, with its employment of the latest social phenomenon in vogue.  I hope the readers and especially youngsters would enjoy giving a cozy reading to this another fantasy after Harry Porter and Twilight series. The reader feels herself in magic of vocabulary and auditory effect alongside reading the story of fairies like medieval romances.

Hina Rafique  is a research scholar also Assistant Professor of English linguistics and Literature at Government Postgraduate College for Women, Gujranwala, Pakistan.