The Hazel Wood was one of my most anticipated releases of the first half of 2018 and I’m so incredibly grateful I got a digital ARC from the publisher through Netgalley! I found reviewing this book really difficult because I loved it so, so much and wanted to do it’s wonderful-ness justice with my review, but then my review was all brain farts and word vomit and zero sense! But finally, many rewrites later, I finally have a spoiler free review to share with you!
I received an ARC of this book from Pinguin Random House UK Children’s through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents, and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheads that you shouldn’t have and secret you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”
Like I said, I find reviewing books like The Hazel Wood so incredibly difficult. The story was entirely different from what I expected and that was quite scary because it could’ve been a recipe for disaster! I absolutely LOVED the book and it was such a special kind of feeling of being both utterly surprised and still loving it so very much. The Hazel Wood is dark, whimsical, a bit odd, mysterious and on top of that relatable and even funny! I do have to admit some small things could’ve been different on better, but in the end I’m perfectly happy with the way it was and I enjoyed it from start to finish. The end was beautiful and heartbreaking but, above all, just so satisfying!
The Hazel Wood is a Contemporary Fantasy. I knew this because I did a Waiting on Wednesday post on it last year, but I was still quite surprised by the setting of New York City and by how dark it was! I was scared of being disappointed by its contemporary-ness, but it was done so well! I often struggle fully relating to characters or things in Fantasy books because they’re so far removed for out own world. It was so refreshing to read a fantasy and still be able to relate to the characters a lot. This book made me feel so many things. Alice and Finch are two wonderful main characters and they were both relatable. Sometimes I read something and had to put the book down because it just hit home and then I cried a little and picked it up again. It was one of the most incredible books I read in 2017. Plus, I just have to mention the contemporary-ness again! I mean, there were mentions of Lin-Manuel Miranda (YAY!), Harry Potter and even Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop, hahah!
The Hazel Wood is one big mysterious fairytale adventure. One of the reasons this book made me feel so many things is because of this mystery. Alice has never met her grandmother or read her book, but when her mom disappears she goes out to look for her with Finch. He tells her all these things about the Hinterland and they go on this journey together to find the estate. It was written almost as if it could actually happen right here, right now. The book wasn’t scary because it was actually scary, if that makes sense. It was scary because it felt so real. Alice has been warned all her life not to go to her grandmother’s estate but then she has to. It’s definitely not easy and that’s what makes it real. They use all these resources to find their way to get where they need to go and it’s almost like an epic scavenger hunt full of genuinely surprising plot twists!
The fantasy/fairytale side of The Hazel Wood was fantastic. For the most part it’s all very comtemporary and real-ish, but the end is definitely more fantasy. We have the mysterious and hidden Hazel Wood estate, the Halfway Wood and then, of course, the Hinterland. The world was so interesting and incredibly odd, and for a while I wasn’t sure if I liked it. I mean, it was so strange! There were trees that looked like “Etsy jewellery on steroids!” It was all very freaky and I was a little confused sometimes, but it was perfect. Like I said before, the end was absolutely perfect and I loved it so, so much! It was heartbreaking at the same time, but it was a good and beautiful kind of end. It was very satisfying!
Words can’t explain how much I love this book. It was dark, twisted, odd and whimsical while also being super fun to read and relatable. The main characters were wonderful and the plot twists were really unexpected! Melissa Albert’s writing style is one of my favourites and I really cannot wait to read more of her books!
About The Hazel Wood
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.
Will you be reading The Hazel Wood?
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