Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Publication Date: February 8th 2018
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 . . .
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!
The Hazel Wood sounded a lot better than what it actually was. A cross between the fantasy and contemporary genres, it was incredibly slow, extremely bizarre and just plain boring. There was not a single thing I enjoyed about it, and I really wish I didn’t waste my time reading something I should have put down as soon as I started.
To begin with, the narrative voice was really difficult to follow – I stumbled on so many oddly phrased sentences – and the protagonist, Alice, isn’t the most likeable of characters. This meant that the writing failed to keep me captivated and I wasn’t at all invested in the story. I literally did not care what happened, but a small part of me still wanted to know where it was heading. Who is Althea Proserpine really? What is the Hinterland? And why did they take Ella?
The fact that Alice calls her mother ‘Ella’ is one of those things that really strikes you about the novel when you start but I don’t think the why is really explained despite the countless flashbacks about their life on the run. All in all, Ellery Finch was probably the only person I really cared about in the entire book, but the treatment of his character – as the only person of colour – is somewhat problematic.
To sum up, this was a huge disappointment. I did not care for most the characters, or for any aspect of the story. The ‘big reveal’ wasn’t worth continuing for, and escaping the Hinterland just seemed a bit too easy after all that build up. A fairy-tale ending, but not my happy ever after.