Book #16: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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.

The Hazel Wood is the first book for March’s book club reads. I’ll be honest, I bought it for the cover and that a fictional world is coming alive. Who doesn’t love that?

That said, the book met my expectations in the beginning. I can understand why others say it’s slow pacing in the beginning. In comparison to the last quarter of the book, the pacing is dramatically on different spectrums. It was like a slow burn of darkness and a fairy tale feel and then BAM rush, rush, rush, END. It felt like this book would have been better if it was longer, kept the pacing the same or maybe rush in some parts to better relate to the end.

What kept me reading? It was the ambiance and the concept that kept me going. It doesn’t go into details, but from what I understand, there are different layers of both fictional and natural worlds intertwining together. This concept really grabbed me and still keeps me wondering.

The ambiance of the book was dark and confusing. There are bits of dark fairy tales retold and I have to say, I LOVED THEM. Loved. There’s no other thing I loved more than those fairy tales. I want to know more about them. I want a book of the fairy tales.

I should note that Alice is prickly person. She isn’t easy to love. With that in mind, it’s not hard to get into her mindset. I actually liked her as a character. She knows she’s not easy and does she try to be? Sometimes, but it’s just hard for her. It’s easier for her to say things that she knows is wrong just so she can push them away. She’s not very prickly with the people who matter: her mother.

I said earlier that there was a weird pace near the end of the book. There is. It felt rushed and it’s the only reason why I didn’t go five star with it. I wanted to see more of the world Albert had introduced us to and was bummed out that we didn’t get the same treatment as we did for the journey. However, it’s always the journey that matters in a fairy tale and that might be what Albert was going for.

I do know that there is a second book slated. I’ve heard that the second is going to be the book of fairy tales (YES PLEASE!), but I’ve also heard that the second book will be a continuation to the worlds Albert has crafted. If it’s the former, just take my money now. If it’s the former, I will gladly hand my money over if we are delving into the different universes. I feel Alice’s story is done as an MC.

There’s also a movie deal in the works. I’ll just sit here and gather up my funds for that one! Just please, make it a dark horror like story. Don’t go typical YA movie with cutesie love and comedy. The book doesn’t have it and the story would be lost.

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