A Review of: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood is a young adult urban fantasy novel following Alice, whose grandmother is an infamous, reclusive fairytale writer. Her book, Tales from the Hinterland, is a cult classic. Alice has never met her grandmother, who lives in the mysterious Hazel Wood. When her mother is kidnapped by characters from the Hinterland, Alice and her classmate, Ellery Finch, set out on a mission to rescue her.
The novel is told from the first person perspective of Alice. Being inside Alice’s head really added to the atmosphere of the story. As she became increasingly paranoid, desperate, and in denial, I myself began to feel the same. I was on edge, waiting for the next thing to happen. The one qualm I had was that she sometimes described past events to the reader rather than allowing the reader to actually ‘watch’ the events unfold.
Growing up, Alice moved often and so she was unable to form any meaningful relationships besides her mother. This led to her forming a sort of co-dependent relationship with her. Outside of her mother, Alice is extremely curious about her grandmother who she’s never met.
The other main character is Alice’s classmate, Ellery Finch. Finch is a massive fan of Alice’s grandmother’s book. He accompanies Alice and aides her on her quest to save her mother, though his motives are questionable.
The other two characters I’ll briefly discuss are Ella and Althea. Ella is Alice’s mother, who turned her back on her own mother and fled when Alice was a baby. Though we don’t spend much time with her, we see from Alice’s thoughts that she loves her daughter very much and will go to great lengths to protect her.
Althea is Ella’s mother, and thus Alice’s grandmother. She remains a mystery for a majority of the novel but is revered by her fans.
Pacing: This novel for me is really divided up into two parts. The first part is Alice in our world, and the second part is Alice in the Hinterland (the world her grandmother’s fairytales took place in). I felt like the first part had really nice pacing. The second part in the Hinterland did feel a bit rushed.
Final Thoughts/Would I Recommend This Read?:
If you are a fan of the original fairytales collected by the likes of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, then you’ll adore this novel. If you’re more into the sweet Disney versions of fairytales, you’ll want to steer clear. I happen to like both, and because of that I appreciated how dark and twisted the stories and characters in this book were.
I also liked how a couple of the fairytales from Tales from The Hinterland (Althea’s book) were included within the story. I would love to read all of the fairytales from the book. The ones in The Hazel Wood read like the old, creepy fairytales that would have been collected by the Brothers Grimm themselves! This book is dark, twisted, creepy and absolutely wonderful.
Final Rating: 8.75/10