I received this book for free from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Series: The Hazel Wood #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 30th, 2018
Genres: Fairy Tale, Urban Fantasy, YA
Source: Flatiron Books
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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 think it’s fair to say there has been some mild hype surrounded The Hazel Wood. I mean, that gorgeous cover and the synopsis are kind of hard to resist so it makes sense. BUT, is the book worth it? This is a slightly complex question to answer because I ~know~ this book won’t be for everyone. To be honest, I also kind of avoided reminding myself what the book was about before I read it because I dreaded the hype getting the better of me and my tastes. I came out pleasantly surprised.
The Hazel Wood is part urban fantasy, part fairy tale and part a book about stories. If someone had told me that before I read the book, I would be intrigued but also nervous because that seems like too much for a book to be BUT Albert manages to pull it off.
Last year, I read Vassa in the Night, which was a gorgeously written book but flew right over my head. I literally had NO idea what was going on half the time. And maybe you think my use of literally is obnoxious but I literally could not give a fuck. The Hazel Wood kind of gives me the same whimsical, lyrical vibe but it is much more easier to follow.
The Hazel Wood is a fairy tale about fairy tales. It is a dark novel about dark things but its rooted in its humanity and the humanity of its characters. Part of me just wants to read this novel as an exploration of the human psyche. Yeah I went there. I am sorry. I am really not that kind of reviewer but something about this book really made me wish it was.
Alice is on the run from something? Bad luck? She has grown up on the run but when they (and we don’t really find out who they are for quite some time) take her mother, she has to go out and figure out the secrets from her past that her mother is hiding. Obviously, there is a great character arc and Alice really comes into herself as a character.
There is not a romance in this novel in the traditional sense but I do really think that the ‘romance’ of this book is the love between a mother and daughter. Alice, is not alone though while she is hunting for her mother, she makes new friends (even though she didn’t really start out wanting to) and learns more about where she comes from.
So clearly, I adored this book so why not the 5 stars? Because I hate giving books 5 stars. But also. I think that because the book’s hyperfocus on Alice was occasionally a hinderance. The book was so much about Alice that it couldn’t really be about anything else? Does that even make sense?
I am glad that there will be sequels because there is so much more to be had of this world and I WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT IT. Overall, this book won’t be for everyone, that much is clear, but I really did enjoy it and read it in one sitting. Fantasies are HARD to read in one sitting so that should say it all.
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