This fantasy novel by Holly Black is a dark and bold retelling of various fairy tale ideas. First, there is the concept of danger lurking in the forest, which is certainly true of the forest outside the town of Fairfold. Then, there is the glass-lidded coffin in which a sleeping prince with pointed ears has lain for decades. Add to this many faeries, elves, knights, a changeling, and “the terrible monster of legend, the one that lurked in the heart of the forest”, and you’ve got a modern fairy tale full of magic and terror.
Hazel and her brother, Ben, have been making up their own tales and adventures in the forest ever since Hazel killed the green-haired hag that tried to drag her into the lake after she found Adam’s dead body, and after the hag had killed their dog, Whiskey. Hazel only escaped because Ben’s pipe music mesmerized the hag. (Oh, yeah, did I mention the pied piper of Hamlin?) That was the day that Hazel found the sword in the mud (sounds a bit like King Arthur, there), the day their adventures began in earnest — Ben piping and Hazel finding and slaying the creatures with her sword. But Hazel has a secret that even Ben and his best friend Jack, don’t know, and the day the Prince escapes his casket is when everything starts to unravel.
This is a tale well-told. There is a lot of suspense, dread, and village panic. When the fantasies Ben and Hazel made up start to come to life, Hazel doesn’t know if she will be able to continue to be the hero of the story. Will she be able to save her town and keep them from harming the changeling boy she has a crush on? * * * *
This is a modern fairy tale exploring a variety of teen relationships in a realistic manner. Fantasy/fairy tales isn’t my particular cup of tea, but I’m trying different genres outside my normal comfort zone for the Eclectic Reader Challenge, so this is my retelling of a fairy tale or legend.