Book: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Published by Flatiron Books on January 30th, 2018
Genre(s): YA, fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Rating: 4 stars
Series? Yes, only one other book is announced, as of right now
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.
Well… I’m not going to lie, I picked this book up from the library for two reasons: 1) it has a pretty cover and 2) I’ve seen tons of other blog posts that have it as a feature. But I never actually read any of its reviews… that’s right, I checked out this book without actually know what it was about. But I did really enjoy it, so that’s a plus. It turned out that it was a very good story. There is just so much to say that it’s hard to sum it into one post. But I am going to try. Fairy Tale retellings are HUGE right now. There is the Cinder series, The Villians series, Geekerella, The End of Oz, and The Bear and the Nightingale (to name a few). And as far as they go, I really loved this one, it’s on its own level.
Let’s start with the story. The story of this book is absolutely amazing and totally unique. Do you ever read a book and just have to stop yourself to think about how incredible it is that all of this comes out of one person’s mind?!? THIS was one of those books for me. The plot is completely unique and unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever read before. I love the idea of dark fairy-tales and it was so fun to watch it play out. As the “main” story plays out, a much bigger story begins to take shape. The big picture comes together to an end you will not see coming.
The characters that this story is built around are brilliantly developed. From the very beginning, a connection is made between the reader and the characters. In the fashion of good writing, details about the characters and their lives are revealed slowly, over the entire course of the story. While Alice is not my favorite heroine ever, it’s undeniable that I connected to her as a reader. As a best/friend and sidekick, Ellery Finch is not the one that would have chosen. Their relationship is awkward and seems forced at times. In fact, many of the relationships in the book seem out of place. And maybe there is a reason for that (I can’t give it away), but I’m not sure.
The world-building in this book is beyond incredible. No joke, there is some Inception-level stuff going on in this book. The world that Albert was able to build is mind-blowing, and it makes me question all sorts of books I’ve read. However, for all its merits, there were several points in the book that I was confused and unable to follow the plot.
The quickest way to end this is to begin it.
Overall, I give this book 4 stars because it is a really exciting and different story, unlike anything I’ve read recently. The world-building in this book is unbelievable, creating a fairy-tale world unlike any other. The story is wonderful and unique and I am really looking forward to reading the next book and Tales from the Hinterland (a book of the fairy-tales the series is about). I would recommend it to anyone who likes fairy-tale retellings, especially the darker kind. This really is an exciting book with lots of exciting twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Are you planning on reading it?