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. (Goodreads)
Okay, so I have some pretty mixed feelings about this one. Growing up I was obsessed with fairy tales and not just the happily ever after Disney ones! One of the first stories I remember my grandmother telling me was a story by The Brothers Grimm. So after reading the book blurb for The Hazel Wood I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. There were so many aspects of this story that brought me right back to those Brothers Grimm stories that I love but other portions of this book just really missed the mark.
The writing was fantastic throughout this story. It was dark, twisted and compelling and while there were things I didn’t particularly enjoy about the story I couldn’t put this book down. The main character Alice was…difficult. She was flawed and interesting but I just couldn’t seem to connect with her. I didn’t feel any emotion towards her throughout the story.
My favourite part of the book was Althea’s fairy tales. I think I could have read an entire book made up of those! I also really enjoyed how Melissa Albert mentioned popular fairy tales throughout the story. It was a nice little touch that brought back a lot of nostalgia. My biggest issue with the book was the lack of world building. The Hazel Wood introduces us to this new fairy tale-esque world and I felt that Albert didn’t give enough depth to it. A large portion of the story takes place in modern day New York and in my opinion that part of the story just dragged out too long. I’m hoping that the next book dives a little further into the fantasy aspects of the story. The last 5% of the book left me with a lot of questions and really made me curious about some of the characters. I definitely look forward to reading more by Melissa Albert.