Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Title: The Hazel Wood 
Author: Melissa Albert 
Publisher: Flatiron Books 
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Format: Hardcover 

Page Count: 368


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. (taken from

"I told you, she was like a war reporter. She didn't write this stuff into creation - 
she wrote about something that was already out there. " 

*Takes a deep breath, clears throat* I've gathered you all here today to ask one question: why isn't this book getting the proper love it deserves? Can someone explain all of the low ratings I'm seeing? Because clearly people are misinterpreting "brilliantly dark and unusual" as "slow and uninteresting." I kid (but no, really, why?).

I knew from the second I saw this book's cover and premise that I was going to become utterly addicted to Albert's twisted tale, and I was right. The Hazel Wood is a wild ride through the rich streets of New York, and of course, a forest that's as dark as it is mysterious.

What This Book Has Going for It:

Great characters. Oh my gosh, I could talk about these characters for ages. Alice is unlike any other female protagonist I've stumbled across in the past few years. Her dark heart and blistering anger that she keeps hidden away make her so incredibly interesting, and yet she's not a villain. She truly is a well-crafted heroine with flaws aplenty, and I adored her. Oh, and Finch? He's so wonderful. You'll love him for his geeky personality and witty sense of humor.

Although Finch and Alice are great, you know what really makes this book splendid: the fairytales. Don't worry, it's not just another retelling of Cinderella's story or anything. These fairytales are ones you've never heard before, and they don't spare any morbid details. I started this book late one night and found myself side-eyeing the shadows in my bedroom as I plunged through chapter after chapter. The eerie elements of this novel are so on point.

As for the actual plot, yes yes yes. Alice stays true to who she is in ways that I simply can't help but applaud. I was desperate to find out what happened next and easily read more than I should have in one sitting. I will admit that I called the big plot twist from the start, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the rest of the ride. Kudos to Albert for creating a tale that could quench my craving for the magical and disturbing.

Why I Couldn't Give It Five Stars

You guys, I was this close to labeling this story as an all-time favorite and bestowing five stars upon it. However, some very minor details held me back. (1) I wanted more of Hinterland because how could I not? I feel that Albert could have shown us a little more, and I easily would have gobbled up another hundred pages or so. (2) Parts of the story were a wee bit confusing. I do believe this might be intentional, since Hinterland is exceptionally strange, but I found myself a little too bewildered at points.

So, in all, pay no heed to those who are disparaging this original piece of literature. I enjoyed it immensely and will happily recommend it to anyone and everyone who enjoys a fairytale with a sinister twist.

Give me more of these creepy, mesmerizing tales!