GHM Rating: 3 of 5 stars
I mean, that cover! How could you not!?
The Hazel Wood is a modern-day fairy tale following that begins 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. Upon her death, her mother is abducted 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 is unable to read a copy of her grandmother’s books as they have become rare each disappearing into private collections for exorbitant amounts of money. As such, she is forced to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan with deep pockets. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and learn she may have her own story to discover.
Overall, I enjoyed it. The fairytales are the best part (and there are not enough!). If you are a fan of young adult fiction and you enjoy the original darker version of fairy tales then this is for you!
I found that the longer I have had to think about it the more nitpicky I have become about how I would rate it. Not because I did not enjoy it. In fact, I did – this was a 24-hour book for me. I came off the book really liking it but then some things stewed about in my head and I knocked it down to a three-star book, with the caveat that if this is your genre then I would give it a strong recommendation.
Most of my issues are because it seems like a lot of potential was left on the table. I really wonder if this could have been pushed into Stephen King territory if Albert had not been reigned in by the Young Adult market.
Have you read it? Are you planning to? If you need a book that leads to discussions and theories this is it!
5 Things to Know About Melissa Albert and The Hazel Wood
- Tales from the Hinterland is tentatively set for release Fall 2020 and will be the complete collection of the fairy tales referenced in The Hazel Wood (which also has a sequel slated for release in Fall 2019).
- Fun Fact, Melissa Albert’s favorite word is: Celery. “It sounds like a place-name in a nostalgic ballad.” (source)
- Melissa Albert was the editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog while she wrote The Hazel Wood.
- When she wrote The Hazel Wood she did not know all of the stories in Tales from the Hinterland (the very important source material of fairy tales that Alice’s grandmother, Althea, wrote). (source)
- The title comes from W.B. Yeats’ “The Song of Wandering Aengus”: “I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head.”
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