The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert ~ 355 pages ~ published 1/30/18 by Flatiron Books
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
What I Thought:
*All of my reviews are spoiler-free!*
This book has been getting such opposite reactions all over the internet. Some people seem to hate it, and others seem to really like it. I knew that I was interested in this book from the initial summary – fairy tales are my jam, people! So, I tried really hard not to look at anyone else’s reviews, so as not to sway my own opinion.
Overall, I really liked this book! I will say, the first several chapters did not really grab me. I realize that it was setting the scene, helping you get to know the characters and trying to intrigue you about what was going to happen with Alice’s mom and grandma. But, it read a little bit dry and slow. For that, I did dock it a star.
Once the meat of the story began, however, I couldn’t put this book down! There were some plot-twisty elements that I really enjoyed. There was just the barest hint of a potential romance with Ellery, which gave it a little bit of an extra layer of fun. And watching Alice interact with the characters from the Hinterland was super cool for me! I absolutely love fairy tale retellings, but this was more of a fairy tale come to life, which I was totally here for!
I also really liked how there were people and events that happened at the beginning of the book that were wrapped up and pointed back to by the end of the book. I found this to be a great way to make the story feel finished. I know this is probably going to end up being a series, but it really can work as a stand-alone.
Another thing that I really enjoyed was the relationship between Alice and her mother, Ella. It is fairly atypical in YA novels for there to be a strong relationship between a teen and their mother. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alice’s relationship with her mother change and grow throughout the novel – I found it quite heartwarming.
I gave The Hazel Wood 4 STARS! I really enjoyed the fairy tale elements of this book. I was also a fan of the interactions between the three main characters of the book: Alice, Ella, and Ellery. If you pick this up, make sure to forge your way through the first several chapters to get to the thick of the story!
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Have you read The Hazel Wood? What did you think? Do you like books based on fairy tales? Let me know down in the comments!
Love and happy reading,