Synopsis: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
What do I even say about this book?
I read some of The Spiderwick Chronicles as a kid (hard as it may be to believe, I loved magical realism then–because I truly believed fairies existed. But that’s a story for another day). Even then, though, they weren’t my favorite, and I preferred my lemonade-stained library copy of the field guide companion to any of the stories. Holly Black co-wrote those, and it was really startling how similar the voice is in this book. Especially since those books are very middle grade, and this one is very not.
I didn’t like any of the characters. I pretty consistently wanted to punch Hazel in the face for her silly opinions and choices and nonsensical reasoning. I wanted to like Jack (he’s a faerie! That’s cool!) but I couldn’t find any traits to appreciate. Ben’s only trait was his obsession with love, and don’t even get me started on Severin. This book went so slowly for the first half, and then everything went crazy in the last quarter. Things happened so quickly I didn’t even realize the stakes until I was trying desperately to decide how to rate this book.
The writing wasn’t even as good as Spiderwick! At least in my almost-a-decade-later memory. Everything was explained so hard. Each of the approximately one gazillion kisses had some silly comparison: He kissed her like he wanted to save her. Kiss him like you want him to choke on your tongue! She kissed him like she wished this book would stop having prolonged kissing scenes. Oh, that last one was mine. Sorry.
I’ll be giving Holly Black another chance whenever I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, but I wouldn’t count on that being soon. I can’t get over how Spiderwick-y this was. But I’d rather have reread Spiderwick–more badassery and faeries, less molasses-slow plot and dumb forced romance.
Bottom line: eh. This review will close like 99% of mine do: a lot of people love this book and I do not. You may. & there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!