Holly Black was not afraid to explain, in detail, the horrific crimes the fae folk would enact on unsuspecting tourists. She brought to life the fear that originally created these mythical creatures, bleeding the horror and beauty into every word, every turn of phrase.
From the first moment I was captivated, I was sucked into this modern world mixed with impossible being from the past. The detail, the descriptions, the metaphors were all well sculpted and grabbed my full attention. I was kept up at night wanting to read more, often having to force myself to sleep so I would not be groggy come morning. Unfortunately, I had no Jack to whisper me into slumber.
The characters were so cleverly developed. Each one had a reason to keep their own secrets, making it easier for the problems within the town to grow, to expand and to overpower them. I loved Hazel, for all her faults; her mistrust of others, her hatred of herself, her need to protect everyone around her without once asking for help herself. She was daring, she risked her own life to save others, she automatically defended friends both from attack by swords and by words. Through all of her hardships, brought on by her parents, the fae, and herself, she is stalwart, she is fearless, and she is larger than life. She blazes her own trail, a wild human child who hunts the monsters in the shadows of the woods.
Her brother Ben is her opposite. He longs for true love, whispers stories to a sleeping prince, detests his gift/curse, and wants to move on from their life in Fairfold. His story is both tragic and optomistic. Highlighting both the neglect and intense determination of their artistic parents (who forget to feed or care for their children, but insist on his being a musical prodigy). His story is very much a happily ever after, that ends up showing his parents that they should have given more to their children and less to themselves.
Jack and the horned boy in the coffin (Prince Severin) played their supportive roles well. Fae folk that have been engulfed in humanity, have been charmed by humans, unlike the other fae who think of humans as sport, as humorous games, as foe or prey.
This is a gruesome, but thought provoking read. About more than a girl champion. It is about the horrors of the world, both outside and inside the home. It reflects the uncertainty of life, the mistrust of others, the evil that lurks in shadows and within ourselves; it is often about the need to defeat our own demons.