What I Loved:
The Hazel Wood had a great mixture of fantasy and real-life that I loved. I enjoyed how these storybook characters came to life in the book.
How I Felt:
I was a bit torn about this story. At times, I was very caught up in the action, and at other times, I was kind of ready to be done. I felt like to book was two stories that the author tried to smash together to create one book.
The Writing: The Hazel Wood had ups and downs. There were secrets that I felt were held on to for far too long. When they were revealed, I was a bit too far past caring. Melissa Albert’s descriptive abilities were amazing though. Her characters seemed to pop off the pages. I had vivid imagery and details of the world that she created, and I really enjoyed that.
The Characters: Melissa Albert really created these very polarizing characters. They all brought out very distinct emotions for me. Alice was so headstrong I found myself frustrated by her a lot. She was quick to anger, and I felt it was unnecessary most of the time. This does get explained later in the book, but it was too far into the book, and my opinion of her had been made by that point. Alice’s step-father and step-sister were rude people that I did not care for. I was ready for them to exit the story the moment they entered. Ellery Finch though, I really liked him. I think I could read an entire story based on his character. He was just a lovable, passionate, and caring person. For me, he helped to propel me through portions of the story.
The Plot: Alice’s grandmother is a famous author in a cultish kind of way. Alice and her mother never visit or speak with her grandmother, so when a letter arrives inviting Alice to visit the Hazel Wood, after her grandmother’s death, it’s no surprise that her mother ignores it. The Hazel Wood won’t be ignored though. Alice returns home from school to find her mother has been kidnapped and her only clue is a note on her bed that references a story from her grandmother’s book. Her mother, however, had one warning for Alice, “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.” Alice must save her mother though and partners with a fan of her grandmother’s book, Ellery Finch. Together they will find out more than they ever wanted to know about the Hazel Wood.
I liked the idea of the plot. I did not feel that it was executed as well as it could have been. I was really interested in the first half of the book, and I really thought it would be a 5 star read for me. The second half of the book, however, just felt like a bit of a jumbled mess. It was fantasy, but there were too many character introductions and backstories all slammed into the chapters to try to catch the reader up on all the secrets from the first half of the book. It would have been smoother if a few of the secrets had come out earlier in the story.
Overall: This was an okay fantasy read. I liked the interesting world that Melissa Albert created, but the story just didn’t come together for me the way I would have liked. I do have the second book in this series in my NetGalley queue already, so I’ll read the second book. I am interested to see where the story goes next.
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend The Hazel Wood for fantasy fans that like to get caught up in the world the author creates. If the backstory and plot lines are really important to you, I would skip this one.
Where to Find This Book:
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is available at these sites.
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.
Just the Facts:
- The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
- Series: The Hazel Wood, Book 1
- Genre: Fantasy / YA
- Page Count: 368 pages
- Publisher: Flatiron Books
- Pub Date: January 30, 2018
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