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Literary Friday: The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Canterbury Sisters

Friday, June 12, 2015

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  Have you started your summer reading yet?  I did get a lot of reading done the past couple of days due to power outages.  Not a lot I could do other than create some art and read.  I had a great excuse to ignore chores!  ;)

This week I read two very different books:  The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is typical Holly Black:  a dark fairytale with fairies, hipsters, hipster fairies, romance, action, suspense, and fantastic character development.  And if that isn't enough the setting is perfect:  A New England town called Fairfold where humans live alongside fairies in the forest adjacent to it.  Oh, but it gets better:  Fairfold benefits from being a tourist town.  Some folks apparently lacking discernment flock to the town to take their chances in the forest and gape at a fairy prince slumbering in a glass coffin.  The townsfolk understand fairies: how they're cunning, how they can't exactly lie but they can certainly confound, and the magic and charms that can keep them at bay. The tourists don't know Jack or squat which leads to missing persons and sometimes worse.

Hazel Evans has lived in Fairfold for most of her life.  She and her brother Ben played in the forest as children, pretending to be knights on a quest to save the boy in the glass coffin.  The book is told mostly from Hazel's point of view, and she is one of the bravest YA heroines ever.  I love her.  But like all the best heroes she has a flaw: love for her brother forces her into bargaining with the fairies. Years pass, and the unimaginable happens:  the fairy prince in the coffin wakes-up, and Hazel is somehow convinced that she played a role in the event.  Her life is complicated enough as it is: she's made out with almost every boy in town, her brother is keeping secrets, and she has a tremendous crush on a fairy changeling named Jack.  As Hazel is lured into Fairy drama, the townsfolk become hysterical as locals become targets of fairy attacks.  Her beloved Jack becomes a suspect which complicates things even further.  It's a good thing Hazel "prepared" for knighthood during her childhood quests!

As a parent, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is the diametric parenting styles of Hazel's parents and Jack's parents.  Hazel's parents are free range parents to the point of neglect, and Jack's parents (Jack is a changeling intended as a substitute for his brother Carter) are helicopter parents.  I must say that I really love Jack and Carter's mom.  She's a badass!  

For those of you unfamiliar with Holly Black, she's an exceptional writer and one of the best YA writers period.  I enjoyed reading The Spiderwick Chronicles with the girls when they were much younger, and I also enjoyed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (still hoping for a sequel to that one).  I recommend The Darkest Part of the Forest to older teens and not to younger ones due to adult content and violence.

Here is the trailer:

The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright pays homage to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  The story is about a group of women walking the original pilgrimage trail from London to Canterbury Cathedral, and each has been challenged to tell a story about love which will be judged by her fellow pilgrims.  The winner will be treated to an elegant gourmet dining experience in Canterbury.  A few of the tales even mimic themes in the original tales which is fun, and at the beginning the reader glimpses stereotypes that have been around for centuries.

Told from Che de Milan's point of view (I know….she has an unfortunate name), Che is joining the tour "Broads Abroad" at the last minute because her original solo tour guide has been hospitalized. She's an unwilling joiner because she's on a quest to take her hippie mother's ashes to Canterbury. Plus her boyfriend has recently dumped her, so she's not really in the mood to listen to much less tell love stories.  The pilgrims span in age from 17 to the early seventies, and the tour guide is a young history professor who takes on a few tours during breaks from her teaching.  At first keeping the characters apart is confusing, but it's probably because Che is confused, and as she learns about the women the reader does as well.

The stories that the women tell are compelling, and there's a tragic plot twist at the end I wasn't expecting.  But readers will cheer for these women to find the peace that should result from taking such a journey.

On a side note, I have decided to make Literary Friday a link party again, so please help a sister out and spread the word!

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. The Canterbury Sisters sounds like an interesting read. I've just finished up the Meg Langslow mystery series and will be waiting for the next book to be released. I'm going to be starting The Sweater Quest at the recommendation of another blogger. Glad you have started up Literary Friday once again. I had a feeling you might and mentioned it in my book post this week.

  2. Awesome! Both of those are on my to-read list, and I'm glad they were as great as they sounded by the cover blurb. :)

  3. I want to read Canterbury Sisters after reading your review. A pilgrimage walk, sisters, love stories, etc. All the ingredients I like. I had heard the title but not the plot before your post.

  4. I'm excited about Literary Friday! It's such a great way to share books with our blog friends. Thanks! Hugs, Diane

  5. Oh, both books sound very interesting. I am going to have to keep my eye out for these two.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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