Review of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

by - March 04, 2018



Series: The Hazel Wood #1
Genres: Fairytales, Mystery
Pages: 368
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: 30/01/2018
Find The Author: Twitter
Find The Book: Book Depository/AbeBooks UK/US
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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.


This is a story of fairy tales but not your perfect Disney prince and princesses. This is a much darker tale, drawing inspiration from the original Grimm stories while creating completely new tales that are utterly brilliant and completely terrifying. I actually had nightmares so bad after reading this book that they woke me up in the middle of the night, and I had to keep reminding myself that in was in my own bed, in England, and I really needed to get my shit together.

Alice and her mother Ella have travelled for as long as Alice can remember. Every time they start settling in a new place, something bad happens and they pack up and leave for a new place every day. Finally her mother marries rich and Alice starts settling in a new place - but not for long. Suddenly, her mother in kidnapped and the only person that can help her is a rich boy from her school, Finch.

"The story opened on a young bride travelling a long way to her new husband's house, and arriving to find it all lit up, but empty. I'd read a few paragraphs - the bride, the journey, the opulent, lonely house - when the light of my laptop cam switched on. I'd stared at its apple-green eye for two hot beats, then slammed the laptop shut."

Finch knows Alice's history well, because he read the stories that Alice's grandmother created. Alice has never met her Grandmother and has never learnt why, all she has is an article from Vanity Fair. She's searched for the stories her whole life but has never been able to read them, as the books are slowly vanishing from the world. They band together in search of The Hinterland and with not a whole lot to go on, set out on a road trip to find Ella.

Alice is insufferable for the majority of the time so you have to just kinda go with it and try to not want to strangle her every time she moans about Finch being rich, as if that somehow makes him different from her and beneath her notice. Presuming we're diving back into that world for the second book, I really, really, need a POV switch to Finch or literally any other character, my second choice would easily be Twice-Killed Katherine.

"Look until the leaves turn red, sew the worlds up with thread. If your journey's left undone, fear the rising of the sun."

After setting up such an amazing concept for the story, when we finally got to the part we were all waiting for, it was as if time sped up. The whole second half of the story felt so rushed, cramming in every detail in order to finish as soon as possible. The ideas for the second half were so rich and literally everything I could want in a book, I felt like the book was literally dragging me by the arm when I wanted to stay. It's not a long book by far and I don't know why we couldn't have kept the perfect pacing of the first half by simply adding 100 pages.

It was a pretty disappointing ending to be honest, especially as this is listed as part of a series. If anything this felt like two books crammed into one and the second half could have been a book all by itself. The fairytale ideas that Melissa has could rival Holly Black, they're just so, so good. I devoured every tale of Alice-Three-Times, Twice-Killed Katherine and That-One-With-The-Door-Whose-Title-Escapes-Me. Those stories could be a whole book of their own and actually, that's not a bad idea. I hope Melissa does publish a whole standalone book of those because they're perfect for fans of Grimm.


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1 comments

  1. Glad to see you enjoyrd it even though you wanted to strangle Alice and half of it felt rushed.! Live your blog Vee!

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