I requested an eARC of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert on a whim because I’ve heard a couple of blogger friends speak really highly of it, and I definitely don’t regret it! If you like to read books without knowing what they’re about exactly, I highly recommend not reading the synopsis below!
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.
I started The Hazel Wood knowing close to nothing about what it was about. And I think that is honestly the best way to read certain books. I love it when I don’t know anything and everything just surprised me. The book was a bit different from how I thought it would be, especially at the start, but I truly enjoyed it! The story is about Alice, whose grandmother is an author of fairy tales and she lives with her mother and travels around constantly, to get away from the bad luck that has been following them all their life. If you’ve not yet read the synopsis above, I would recommend you keep it that way and keep the mystery!
“When you finish a story,” she said patiently, “it begins again. Until I stop telling it. And while they’re being told, stories create the energy that makes this world go. They keep our stars in place. They make our grass grow.”
This book is like a dream that slowly turns into a nightmare and then turns into something that’s not quite either but something in between. It’s dark, mysterious, and makes you want more. The way Melissa Albert tells her stories is so well-done. Her writing is, for the lack of a better word: fairytale-ish. It’s magical, whimsical and fun, but also dark and creepy at times.
I turned slowly in place, alone in a clearing in the deep dark woods.
That’s when I entered a fairytale.
Alice was a great protagonist, and I loved following her through the story. What made her stand out was how she has been dealing with anger issues her entire life, and she’s also sarcastic and a little blunt. She has been alone with her mother her entire life and that shows in her character. I loved how she and her mother had such a close bond.
“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”
I am giving this book 4 stars because I really enjoyed reading this book! It was very different, written beautifully and the story was really engaging. A few minor things that made me give it a star less were that I found the second half sometimes a little confusing and the ending could have been wrapped up a little better, I think. Overall, I would really recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytales, especially dark ones!