Black returns to her faerie roots with a fantasy set in our very recognizable modern world.
Hazel lives in Fairfold, a small town in a haunted forest full of the Folk. Brother Ben’s best friend is a changeling; local kids party by the glass coffin containing a horned boy who has slept for generations. Ben himself has magical musical powers, and he and Hazel used to hunt bad Folk when they were kids. But that was before they grew apart and started keeping secrets, before Hazel kissed Ben’s first boyfriend (and lots of boys since). Now a monster menaces the town, and the horned boy is awake. Black clearly knows her lore, and the broad strokes intrigue, but somehow the pieces never jell. Hazel is a series of clichés dressed in outfits described with a little too much precision, a broken girl making out with boys to dull the pain, dreaming of heroics. But there’s no depth; the parental neglect and secrets are so past tense that they lack urgency (and the parents, mysteriously, are now fine). When it turns out Hazel is indeed special, too many plot threads are flying for her journey to carry the novel.
In the end, Black’s latest seems to mirror Hazel’s fears about herself—"as normal and average as any child ever born"—but like Hazel, it's not without charm. (Fantasy. 13 & up)