Written by: Melissa Albert
Published: January 30, 2018 by Flatiron (Macmillan)
Synopsis: 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.
There was definitely a lot of hyper surrounding this book. I was totally looking forward to it as a dark fantasy inspired by fairy tales. It was one of my most anticipated debuts. And while it was a creative and engaging read, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping I would.
One thing that I did love about this book was the world. I’m a huge fan of YA fantasies and the darker the better, so I was really excited to explore this world inspired by dark fairy tales. And the author did a great job in incorporating the actually fairy tales into the story in a fun and engaging way. I love books that are inspired by fairy tales and especially ones who develop their own stories and that exactly what happened here. It gave it a modern fairy tale vibe which I appreciated. Plus the fairy tales were incredibly dark and vicious which I loved. They felt like the original Grimm's Brothers stories in that way.
In addition to that, the writing too was very lyrical and engaging. I think probably I liked the world the most because of the writing. The author made a point to develop a descriptive world and she did that with atmospheric writing and beautiful prose. It definitely pulled me into the story and helped give that sense of wonder and foreboding, especially when it came to the fairy tales. They were beautifully written and I kind of just want to read them.
But I will say, I liked the fairy tales way more than the actual plot of this book. The fairy tales were incorporated in an interesting way but the present day plot of the book was not very interesting. In fact it was kind of slow and totally predictable. I’m sure it was attempting to surprise us with twists and big reveals but every one of them I saw coming and because of that I just wasn’t very entertained by the plot. And while it did built to an exciting conclusion I felt like it was a bit muddled and rushed. It could have redeemed itself at the climax but unfortunately for me, it didn’t. This is one of those books where I solved the twists so early that I assumed there were more surprises, and because of that I read more into the book than there was. I’m such a plot driven reader so I just wish that there was a little more to he plot. My biggest frustration here was definitely with the plot.
The other thing I didn’t love was the characters. I think Alice was a fine MC, I did appreciate the fact that she wasn’t always very likable. She’s kind of a brat sometimes in the way she treats people. However, because of that I just couldn’t see why suddenly she would want to help them. The quest honestly just felt very out of character and because of that I kept her at arms length I think. But I also just hated the romance here. I’m hard to please when it comes to romance and for the longest time in this book I felt like this was just going to be a friendship thing, but then it suddenly turned to romance and lost me. There could have been some good stuff with the characters but it just didn’t get there for me.
All in all, I think this was a good debut with an engaging world and lyrical writing but a lackluster and confusing plot and characters I didn’t connect with kept me from fully loving it.
I give The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 8 out of 10 stars
Have you read The Hazel Wood? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!