Title: THE HAZEL WOOD
Author: Melissa Albert
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ARC?: Yes, provided by a friend!
TW/CW: Kidnapping, blood, death, violence.
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.
If you follow me on twitter, you know that THE HAZEL WOOD has been one of my most anticipated 2018 releases. I probably asked for an ARC more times than anyone can count until someone took pity on me and sent me a copy (thank you, Rachel!).
THE HAZEL WOOD is good, I want to say that first. The writing is beautiful, I loved our main character, and I loved the premise of the book. However, I was also left wanting more… and not in a necessarily good way. I went into this book thinking that the majority of it would take place at the Hazel Wood, Alice’s reclusive grandmother’s estate. Maybe if I didn’t have it so firmly planted in my head that we would get more of that story- the story of Alice’s grandmother and Hazel Wood and Hinterland- I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.
The majority of the book, however, takes place in New York City and then on the road as Alice and Ellery set off to find the Hazel Wood and Alice’s mom, Ella. They keep running into Hinterland’s story characters along the way until Alice finally finds herself in Hinterland and learns the truth about herself, her mom, and her reclusive grandmother.
I think my biggest problem with the book was that I feel I didn’t get enough of the characters to actually care about them. There’s a scene that should have destroyed me (I don’t like when characters get hurt) but I was like “Yeah, ok, are we going to the Hazel Wood now?” We get these little snippets of backstory for the characters but it isn’t enough to make me fall in love with them. I think if we had gotten more of them, more of their story, more personality, I would have enjoyed the book more. But the characters felt super flat and replaceable to me.
As a fan of fairytales, I was just disappointed with the actual lack of fairytale and magic. Most of the book is just Alice talking about how she and her mom moved around a lot. Personally, if the majority of the book had taken place in Hinterland or in the Hazel Wood, I probably would have loved this.
Again, this isn’t a bad book. I enjoyed reading it but I definitely expected this to be one that I instantly preordered… and that’s just not happening.