Gorgeous visual storytelling in Holly Black’s dark and lovely tale!

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Hazel and her brother, Ben live in a small town where people believe in fairies because they are real.  The woods are host to the Alderking and his court.  In the forest sleeps a fairy prince with horns known as the “horned boy.”  For generations the people of Fairfold played and partied around his crystal coffin.  The people and “the folk” live side by side peacefully unless someone does something stupid.  Usually tourists fall prey when they go in search of fairies that are nothing like Tinker Bell.  The fairies are not to be taken lightly.  There are many rules and superstitions.  Ben has an enchanted talent after a fairy woman has a chance meeting with him and his mother.  As children, Ben and Hazel were hunters of the folk, taking down the fairies that harm humans.  Ben played music that mesmerized the folk while Hazel would strike them with a magical sword.  Their hunts stop when Ben struggles with the music, nearly getting Hazel killed.  The story beings with a party in the forest at the coffin of the horned boy.  Hazel is having friend problems because of the way she likes to kiss boys.  The story is told in current times as well as flashbacks as the horned boy wakes up.  Holly Black brilliantly intertwines the past and present together, giving the story interesting twists and turns which combine at the end for a satisfying conclusion.  I love her descriptions of the forest, the folk and especially Sorrow.  The story of how Sorrow came to be is fascinating as well as Hazel’s secret of what happens to her in the night.  Black creates two parallel worlds one of fantasy right along with reality in a way that makes the fantasy feel real. This book is hard to put down.

Some ideas for discussing with teens.

Discuss Hazel’s need to kiss the boys and how that impacted her friendship with Molly.

Discuss the fascination with the horned boy.  What would it be like to have that as part of your reality?  What kind of story would you make up about him?

Discuss Hazel and Ben’s quests when they were children.

Discuss Carter and Jack.  How is Jack different from them and how is he the same?

What do you think really happened between Ben and Kerem?  Did he bewitch him with music?

Discuss Ben’s decision about his hand and how that changed his life.

How did Ben and Hazel’s relationship change with their parents throughout the book?  How did you feel about them after Hazel’s memories returned?

Discuss superstition and how it plays into our lives and family culture.

Discuss Ben’s relationship with Severin.

Discuss how Sorrow came to be.  How did the events in the book change her.

What do you think will happen with Ben, Hazel and Severin?

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