ARC Review - The Hazel Wood

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Series: The Hazel Wood #1
Published: January 30, 2018
Source: e-ARC for review
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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.


This book has been on my goodreads shelf for over a year now because from day one it sounded like it was going to be right up my alley.  Something about "pitch-dark fairy tales" just called to me, and let's be honest, that cover is gorgeous so I was pretty much guaranteed to read it if I had the time.  Thankfully I did, and I'm really glad.

The best thing about this book, hands down, was the writing.  Not everyone is gonna love it, but I'm a huge sucker for those lush, lyrical books that wrap around you and make you want to pull quotes from them to write on your walls or ink on your skin (or maybe that's just me).  Albert has definitely joined my ranks of Laini Taylor, Taherah Mafi, and Lauren Oliver with her writing skills and how they seem effortlessly beautiful.  This is a story about fairy tales, in fact, one could argue it is one itself, and it certainly lives up to it in the writing department.

Along with the writing, the other thing that I think really worked for this book was the story.  I don't want to give too much away so I'm gonna be a little vague here, but I very much enjoyed the path this story went down.  It had an Alice in Wonderland feel to it, story-wise, what with it being about a girl who ends up in a world that's not quite right, but the twists and turns that it included, along with the fact that the Alice in this story actually meant to find her Wonderland, managed to keep it fresh.  

There were a few things that kept me from really loving this book, though.  I was talking with a friend trying to pinpoint what it was exactly and I think I finally figured it out.  First I want to note that the pacing of the story was a little odd.  It took almost 150 pages to actually get to anything resembling Wonderlander (or in this case Hinterland), and then we only got about 100 pages inside of it.  That being said I think my main problem was the characters.  They were perfectly fine characters, but they seemed a little flat, and we really only got to know Alice, but even then we didn't really get to know her.  I also noticed that there were things, characters and situations, that were introduced and then never addressed again. 

Overall this was a magical debut that I definitely enjoyed.  It was exactly as advertised; a lush fairytale with bite that kept me entertained from start to finish.  While there were a few little bumps in the road for me this is still a book that I would recommend to people looking for a new fantasy to fill the wait for something else, and I'll certainly be checking out what Albert writes in the future.  I'm gonna be honest, I'm not really sure where book two in this series is going to go because despite what I mentioned about a handful of things that were introduced and never given a resolution the story really does seem to stand on its own as a finished arc.  I'll be curious to see where Albert ends up going with book two, and while I may or may not check that one out, depending on what it will be about, I'm pretty sure I'll check out the collection of stories that will be released the after that that's supposed to be the fictional book of stories this one revolves around.

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