Tuesday 30 January 2018

Clare Reviews: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1)Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood #1
Format: ARC
Source: Received at YALC
Pages: 357
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: 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.

My thoughts on The Hazel Wood are mostly excited capital letters and a bunch of exclamation marks so I wasn't initially sure how I'd ever manage to write a review for it. I've always loved fairy tales so the premise of this book appealed to me a lot, and what I got was even better (and darker) than I had expected. The writing is gorgeous and evocative. There were so many times when a sentence demanded to be read aloud because it just sounded so damn good. I got lost in this story in a way I very rarely do and it was a wonderful feeling. 

Alice was an amazing, multi-layered main character. She was so normal and relatable but had this dark undertone the whole way through the book. I loved reading about her in the Hinterlands the most, perhaps because it was here that she truly began to show her darker fairy-tale-esque attitude. Finch was a lovely side character, he felt like a real person in so many ways and as angry as I was at him sometimes for his obsession with the stories - he was still utterly lovable. There are also a whole host of deliciously dark side characters ripped from the fairy tales. I'm a sucker for the darker fairy tales (less happy ever after more whole lotta murder and dark powers) and The Hazel Wood had these in spades.

I loved the story of the book and, whilst I did see one of the twists coming, it was such a brilliant and surprising read. The story is equal parts road trip and fairy tale (which also sums up Alice's entire life) and I loved both parts. The fairy tale elements definitely stuck with me more, which is fairly predictable. But I was surprised by how much I loved the first half of the book as well.

The relationships between characters were fascinating. Ella and Alice had a dysfunctional but loving mother-daughter relationship whilst Alice's relationships with everyone else tended to be more volatile. She says herself that Ella is the only person she really cares about (later expanding this to include Finch) and by the end of the book she has opened up a lot. The last paragraph was probably my favourite part of the book because it hints at so much darkness still uncovered woven into the "normal" world. 

I have learned that the Tales from the Hinterland will be an actual book at some point and I am super excited to read some new, dark fairy tales. I also desperately want more of Melissa Albert's writing. 


  1. This sounds great, and I love the sound of the dark fairy tale vibe. The writing sounds awesome too, I love it when certain sentences make you want to read em out loud! Glad this was so good!!

    1. That's my favourite kind of writing when it just wants to be read aloud! And yes the dark fairy tale aspect works so, so well! Definitely recommend it!

  2. So glad you enjoyed this one! I love dark fairy tales and I really haven't come across that many, especially recently! Hazel Wood is one of my most anticipated reads and I really hope I'll be able to get my hands on it soon! Hope you have a wonderful week!

    Elena @ Book Lady's Reviews

  3. This book sounds amazing! I really want to pick this one up, it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for sharing your review.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this, too!! I was so impressed by the fairy tales the author created, because they were super-unique and so damn dark. I can't even describe how excited I am for Tales from the Hinterland, because, wow, I WANT MORE CREEPY TALES. Great review! :)

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

  5. Yay! I'm glad you loved this one too! Great review, Clare. :)

  6. This sounds like a good story. Great review!