“The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
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, that was really weird.
Let’s start with the good. I really liked the ~idea~ of the book. Grandmother writes about fairy tales. The stories aren’t just stories. Alice’s mother is stolen and she must rescue her. All of that? I love those elements in books and they really worked for this story. I even liked that a few of the stories are shared in the book.
What I didn’t like was simply how dark and twisted the stories (and the novel) was. I know fairy tales have some pretty gruesome roots and this book really acknowledges those roots. Everything about the book was rough and abrasive for my taste.
I had no idea where this journey would take me. That was a pretty pleasant surprise as many books are fairly predictable. This book took me on an adventure and I never knew what would happen next.
It’s definitely not a book for everyone. If you like dark and twisted stories, give The Hazel Wood a try!