Book Review | The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Today’s review is for one of the books I was desperate to read this year due to the amazing feedback I’d seen for it already. The Hazel Wood however on the whole fell slightly below my expectations. I wish I hadn’t seen so much about it prior to reading as perhaps I would be giving it 5/5 stars then. Nevertheless, for a more detailed review and insight read on…
Title: The Hazel Wood
Series: The Hazel Wood #1
Author: Melissa Albert
Release Date: 8th February 2018
Source: eARC provided through NetGalley by Penguin (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased)
‘Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a 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 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.
To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .‘
This is definitely one of those times where I was far too hyped up about a book before reading it. I’ve been seeing countless reviews where people gave this book 5 stars and as a result I was expecting to be blown away by the story. Now, I did like the book, especially the fairy tale elements (I’ve probably mentioned enough by now that fairy tales definitely intrigue me). But I didn’t find it to be a page turner until maybe half way in.
I expected a lot more of the story to be based in the Hazel Wood (well, the Hinterland really) yet it was set mostly in the “normal” world, largely set in New York in the beginning. I do love New York so it was nice in that sense but just not what I was expecting? It was almost as though there were elements of fantasy in an otherwise contemporary YA story before we got to the Hinterland. I appreciate it was probably necessary for the reader to be immersed in the story more but a couple of times at the beginning I found myself getting almost bored as I just wanted to read about the fantasy side.
Characters wise, the main character Alice I felt was being built up steadily throughout the story. She grew up with only her mother Ella, who keeps her away from fairy tales which Alice dislikes at first as she’s curious about her grandmother (who wrote a book called Tales from the Hinterland – a collection of fairy tales). Ella is a strong character and I wish we’d seen more of her in the book due to that. A boy called Ellery Finch helps Alice through the story, as he’s a huge fan of her grandmother’s book. I liked his character, he was like a ray of sunshine in some of the slower parts of the beginning and I found myself preferring his character to Alice at these points.
A couple of the chapters were dedicated to stories from her grandmother’s book, and honestly I loved those chapters. That’s another reason why I liked Finch’s character, without him we wouldn’t even have those chapters. The dark fairy tales that Melissa has created are fascinating and I was very happy to see that there are talks of a whole book full of them. In terms of a follow up to The Hazel Wood though I’m not quite sure about that – I felt that this book wrapped up nicely so I think I’d have to wait and see a synopsis to see if I’d read the next book in the series.
I did enjoy this read, but it just didn’t live up to my too high expectations. I’d definitely adore to read Tales from the Hinterland in full as chapters which were set in the Hinterland were by far my favourite parts of The Hazel Wood, yet ultimately the slow start had me struggling to fall in love with the story completely.
About the Author
‘Melissa Albert is the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog and the managing editor of BN.com. She has written for McSweeney’s, Time Out Chicago, MTV, and more. Melissa is from Illinois and lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Hazel Wood is her first novel.’
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