The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

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 fig...

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Title:The Hazel Wood
Author:Melissa Albert
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Hazel Wood Reviews

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    You know those Disney princess fairytales, the ones where the damsel in distress is saved by Prince Charming and they get married and live happily ever after? Yeah, this isn't that story. Think of the old school

    fairytales, and then imagine something even darker and you'll have a clear picture of what this book holds for you. That's not a criticism; one of the surest ways to get me to commit to reading a book is to tell me it's an old

    You know those Disney princess fairytales, the ones where the damsel in distress is saved by Prince Charming and they get married and live happily ever after? Yeah, this isn't that story. Think of the old school

    fairytales, and then imagine something even darker and you'll have a clear picture of what this book holds for you. That's not a criticism; one of the surest ways to get me to commit to reading a book is to tell me it's an old school fairytale. I am a hardcore sucker for these wicked little snippets into an alternate world, and this debut felt like it was written by a seasoned pro with all the bells and whistles you could ask for.

    We're dropped into the story about midway; the first few chapters are meant to give us some background on Alice, her mother Ella, and her grandmother Althea Prosperine, who became famous by writing a book of fairytales. This book was titled

    and it contained a total of twelve brief stories. The cool part about

    is that we get to read a couple of these first hand within the story (

    and

    ), while also getting brief snippets from most of the rest of them toward the end. This aspect was so unique and compelling that I felt a little breathless at the end. I wanted every story verbatim! I feel like, if the author so chose, she could write

    , binding and fully fleshing out all twelve stories in a volume to sell as a companion novel and we the people would EAT. IT. UP.

    So Alice remembers being kidnapped at the age of six by a strange man with red hair claiming to take her to visit her recluse of a grandmother, but she was never harmed and never laid eyes on Althea. Strange things begin to happen, such as Alice spotting the mysterious redheaded man a decade after her last sighting of him, her mother and herself receiving a letter stating Althea has passed away, and finally, Ella disappearing under very strange circumstances. Alice has no one to turn to other than a recently made acquaintance named Ellery Finch, who is a mega super borderline stalker fan of Althea's work. His money and affluent nature allow them to forge a shaky bond and they decide to set off on a journey to do the very thing Alice's mother warned her not to do-visit the Hazel Wood. <---

    I wouldn't call Alice a likable character, but she was certainly a compelling lead. I felt just as befuddled as she did along this journey; I honestly had no clue where this story would take us and was just as shocked as Alice at every twist and turn. While there was no sexual content whatsoever in this book (at least that I remember), it still made me give pause to what age range this book would be most appropriate for. Certainly the older side of the spectrum, as this was disturbing, unsettling, and contained a good bit of graphic violence/horror within the stories. I was warned many times over about how truly dark this book is, but I didn't think it was something I'd blink an eye at, not with all the graphic murder mystery/thrillers I read, but this was different. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly provoked this sense of unease I felt; perhaps it was the not so light way the story was wrapped up? There isn't much levity to be found here; if you're the type of reader looking for a happy ending you most certainly have come to the wrong place.

    Originally I gave this book 4 stars, but I've decided to bump it up to a full 5, seeing as it's been almost a full week since I finished it and I cannot stop thinking about it. This quirky little novel has been jostling other stories I am currently reading, vying for attention in my head and further pondering, so for that reason, I think I need to give credit where credit is due. This book certainly won't be for everyone, but I think the fans of dark fairytales and things that go bump in the night will wholly appreciate the author's ability to conjure up such a complex tale that was detailed and, quite frankly, brilliant. Highly recommended!

  • Sabaa Tahir

    Holy Hinterland crows, that was good. Read this at night, with a cup of tea and the lights dimmed so you can be scared silly like I was. :D :D

  • Shreya (☆High Lady of The Night Court☆)

    You want to read a mysterious, crazily intriguing book, this is it. My heart was racing for the first 7 chapters because I had no idea what was going to happen and during the rest because I couldn’t wait to see where the Story was going (pun intended- if you’ve read it you’ll understand).

    This is just so

    . I don’t know how it possible to make somethi

    You want to read a mysterious, crazily intriguing book, this is it. My heart was racing for the first 7 chapters because I had no idea what was going to happen and during the rest because I couldn’t wait to see where the Story was going (pun intended- if you’ve read it you’ll understand).

    This is just so

    . I don’t know how it possible to make something so interesting and addicting. I couldn’t stop even once, it’s crazy really, in the entire book not even one word was boring or out of place. I feel like I’m going to burst into hysterical laughter if I start talking about it because I can’t wait for the next book and I can’t accept the fact that the book is over. The whole thing was so well planned and the book did justice to the concept which was also great. The world itself is written very descriptively which helped picture the very fictional and fantastical world and characters. It was so much more interesting because nearly every other character had their own agenda and were playing their own angle.

    In this world, Althea Proserpine was a famous writer who wrote the books

    . This book is an enigma, there are no traces of it online and very few people have read it and those who have read it are borderline addicted to it and Althea, Once this book was published Althea Proserpine moved into an estate called

    and fans all over the world have tried to locate it with no avail. And just like that Althea Proserpine was never again seen on the face of the Earth and eventually the theories and rumours died down, but Althea’s daughter Ella moved out of

    when she was young and raised her daughter Alice away from anything related to Althea and her fairytales and forbade her from researching or reaching out to Althea.

    But all her life Alice and her mother have been moving from place to place without ever settling down because if they ever stay in one place for too long bad luck just seems to follow them and bring a whole lot of destruction along with it. But a few years ago Alice got a letter informing her of Althea Proserpine’s death and at that moment onwards she built a stable life for herself and her daughter. But now Alice has been taken by someone who claims to be from Hinterland, the very world Althea based all her stories on, which now turns out to be real. And if the world is real so must be the stories.

    The fairytales Althea wrote were not our average fairy tales with happy endings, they were gruesome tales generally with savage endings and characters who held no semblance of humanity. Now that Hinterland has proved to be real Alice will have to have navigate a world of the darkest stories in existence to rescue her mother, with the help of Finch who happens to be one of her grandmothers cultish superfans who remembers every story in the book.

    This book grabbed my attention in the beginning and held it all the way to the end. The world within this world is one of the most interesting I have ever read. The concept of the Hinterland and the Hazel Wood was written with a lot of clarity which increases the pace of the book. Everything about this book dragged me in and the next book has a lot of intrigue to live up to. I rate this book 5 stars.

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    4.5*

    Thoughts tk at some point when I have time, sorry!

  • Cait • A Page with a View

    That was one of the most mesmerizing, creepy, and creative stories I've found in a long time! I absolutely loved the writing, but the plot itself wasn't really my cup of tea.

    Alice grew up moving from place to place with her mom whenever "bad luck" and weird situations caught up to them. (Ex: she was kidnapped once when she was a kid, but the guy just bought her blueberry pancakes and then showed up a decade later at Alice's job looking the

    ). Her grandmother wrote a book of dark fa

    That was one of the most mesmerizing, creepy, and creative stories I've found in a long time! I absolutely loved the writing, but the plot itself wasn't really my cup of tea.

    Alice grew up moving from place to place with her mom whenever "bad luck" and weird situations caught up to them. (Ex: she was kidnapped once when she was a kid, but the guy just bought her blueberry pancakes and then showed up a decade later at Alice's job looking the

    ). Her grandmother wrote a book of dark fairy tales and became a recluse with a cult following before dying on her estate (the Hazel Wood). Alice never met her, though, and just has her mother:

    One day Alice's mother is taken in a string of creepy incidents and it becomes clear that the Hinterland (the world from the fairy tale book) is real. It's next to impossible to get a copy of the book, but a guy at Alice's school is flat out obsessed with the stories. He knows every detail, so they embark on a mission to get Alice's mother back. I loved his reasons for being such a huge fan:

    The story itself was magical, gritty, and unique, but the writing was what really drew me in. This book was just SO easy to read. I mean, the writing is seriously amazing. There were several times I wanted to put it down because I usually prefer stories that are more... glitter and lightheartedness? Whatever. My point is this ended up being a bit darker than I expected and I never really enjoyed the story, yet I

    .

    I've heard this compared to The Raven Cycle and do see a slight similarity, buuuut also think that series was more whimsical. This was more like a creepy Wonderland retelling.

    The fact that I cared about the main character even though I didn't necessarily

    her shows how strong the writing was. And I still appreciated how flawed, messy, and real Alice was.

    I also loved how much of this book was about the power of stories (and Stories). Alice marks locations by whatever she was reading at the time and so many of my favorites were mentioned. This is just a weird book to rate overall because I honestly wasn't that huge on it, but really did love the writing and so many elements!!

    I don't want to say much more about the actual plot because the book isn't released for another 6 months. But I would recommend preordering this one if you like magical realism and creepy stories.

  • Emma Giordano

    3 Stars. Not my favorite book I’ve ever read, but still enjoyable.

    I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this book. The writing was fine. The characters were okay. The world was probably the most interesting element of the story, but nothing amazing in my opinion. I really enjoyed how the story takes place in modern day New York City and the fairytale elements are hidden beneath. I found the fairytales/whimsical elements of the story to be it’s strongest point. I genuinely enjoyed my ti

    3 Stars. Not my favorite book I’ve ever read, but still enjoyable.

    I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this book. The writing was fine. The characters were okay. The world was probably the most interesting element of the story, but nothing amazing in my opinion. I really enjoyed how the story takes place in modern day New York City and the fairytale elements are hidden beneath. I found the fairytales/whimsical elements of the story to be it’s strongest point. I genuinely enjoyed my time listening to this story on audiobook, but I don’t feel it has many incredible aspects. Additionally, I did lose focus nearing the end of the story. Stories became jumbled and it left me feeling as if the ending has less impact than it intended to.

    I find one of the biggest critiques of this novel is that the main character, Alice, is immensely rude, disrespectful, hyper-critical and ill-tempered which is

    . That being said, her personality/behavior is integral to the story and does have a purpose, so it didn’t bother me all that much. Given, every time Alice made an effort to point out her “rage issues”, I totally rolled my eyes, but it didn’t make me significantly more frustrated than other unlikeable main characters. I understand the valid criticisms of how Alice treats the only person of color in the story because that was a bit more off-putting than her other traits. There is a scene where Finch, a biracial character, tries to calmly explain why Alice provoking a police officer in his company can be dangerous and Alice completely brushes off his concerns, trivializing the racism he experiences because he comes from money. (It was obvious to me that this scene was intended to be a lesson in privilege and we were meant to side with Finch, but as it is from Alice’s perspective and there is no correction of her behavior on her part, her voice is more dominant so I can completely see the flaws in execution of this scene. It was just messy.) I will also mention that I actually enjoyed the fact that this story followed a main character who grew up in poverty and without a stable home – Situations like this are not common in YA and it was nice to see a character who constantly moved from place to place, have been kicked out by people they stay with, always on the road and have a parent who is always working odd jobs to make ends meet. Alice isn’t the worst main character I’ve ever read about (though she’s pretty close to the bottom), but I don’t feel much affection for her. Finch was by far my favorite character in the story (though there aren’t many others to choose from) and I really wish he had gotten more development instead of being constantly pushed off to the side. He had great potential, but it didn’t really follow through.

    I did enjoy

    but it’s not a very memorable book for me. I think the synopsis was so strong and there was so many possibilities for this book to be amazing, but I don’t think it followed the strongest route. It’s just one of those books that I didn’t love or hate either, that I had a good time reading, but have more distinct critiques than positives to share.

  • Emily May

    Okay, so this was

    a book for me. I really wish I hadn’t received an arc of

    and had instead waited for more reviews to roll in first.

    The blurb makes it sound exactly like the kind of dark fairy tale goodness I love, but if someone had - more accurately - explained that this is a book about a girl called Alice who gets sent to

    the Hinterland where she me

    Okay, so this was

    a book for me. I really wish I hadn’t received an arc of

    and had instead waited for more reviews to roll in first.

    The blurb makes it sound exactly like the kind of dark fairy tale goodness I love, but if someone had - more accurately - explained that this is a book about a girl called Alice who gets sent to

    the Hinterland where she meets

    many colourful characters who talk in riddles, and she finds herself doing bizarre and random things like

    singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Landslide” in a Tudor-style pub… well, I’d have passed. I’ve already read

    . Once was enough.

    I know this will be much more suited to a specific type of reader who likes

    . Perhaps those who enjoyed books like

    . Those who are more forgiving of no one saying what they actually mean and talking all mysterious for no other reason than “shh, this is the rule of fairytales” because we all know it's more magical if nothing makes sense. For me, it was honestly irritating to have characters withhold important information just ‘cause.

    The book opens with a bit of background about Alice, her mother Ella, and her reclusive grandmother Althea Proserpine - an author of a dark fairy tale collection,

    , that gained a cult following some years back. Alice has never met her grandmother, but Ella has constantly insisted on the two of them packing up and moving again and again, running away from bad luck that clearly has something to do with her grandmother and the book she wrote.

    When Ella disappears, seemingly kidnapped, Alice teams up with long-time Althea fan, Ellery Finch, and uses his knowledge of the stories to find her grandmother's secret estate - The Hazel Wood.

    This first half(ish) seemed

    It is mostly a road trip where the characters rely on fairy tale logic along the lines of

    instead of smarts and deduction to keep the story moving. A romance develops but, to the author's credit, she never allows this to become a romantic book overall.

    I found a lot of the story really hard to get through. Maybe because I struggled to form a connection with any character. Alice herself is cold and bitchy, without the depth and complexity needed to make these traits interesting. Ellery Finch is super hipster and must gaze at the moon and quote Shakespeare every few pages in order to keep functioning. He has a tattoo of a Vonnegut quote, of course. And the problem is these two are the only really valuable or memorable characters in the book.

    The second half basically is

    . Which may or may not sound appealing, but my tolerance level for random weirdness isn't that high.

    My favourite parts were the

    fairy tales within the story, which were deliciously dark and creepy, but I disliked it every time we came back to "reality" with Alice and Finch. I kinda wish the author had written a book of short stories instead and let me skip out on everything else. I could definitely see myself enjoying a creepy short story collection from Albert.

    So, yeah, definitely not for me, but I would recommend this for those who like Wonderland retellings, and those who enjoy really lyrical prose over characters and/or plot.

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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    Here is the Fairyloot Box. I told y'all I would have both of my subscription boxes with the same book. As usual, look for the link under the picture.

    This OWLCRATE picture is crap y'all. Don't ask, but as usual, click on the link below picture to see the unboxing & some other surprises ♥

    Well, there are not that many great reviews for this on my friends list. So let's see how it goes!

    I think I jinxed it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just wasn't f

    Here is the Fairyloot Box. I told y'all I would have both of my subscription boxes with the same book. As usual, look for the link under the picture.

    This OWLCRATE picture is crap y'all. Don't ask, but as usual, click on the link below picture to see the unboxing & some other surprises ♥

    Well, there are not that many great reviews for this on my friends list. So let's see how it goes!

    I think I jinxed it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just wasn't feeling it and that makes me sad =( But, we can't love them all.

    I did enjoy the character of Finch, he was my favorite!

    I'm sure more people will love the book. There seems to be a ton of people on Amazon that love it already so there is that.

    Anyway, on to the next!

    Happy Reading!

    Mel ♥

    MY BLOG:

    AMAZON:

  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    It's time for another

    review! This book was literally the single biggest reading disappointment of the year for me. I really wanted to love this story. It was being marketed as a twisted fairytale, and those are my aesthetic for sure - the spookier and darker, the better - but this fell short in so many ways.

    It's time for another

    review! This book was literally the single biggest reading disappointment of the year for me. I really wanted to love this story. It was being marketed as a twisted fairytale, and those are my aesthetic for sure - the spookier and darker, the better - but this fell short in so many ways.

    Marketing led me to believe that this was going to be the typical high fantasy world we see in fairytales. My first disappointment was in learning that the setting was modern-day New York, and the first half of the book straddled the line between contemporary and urban fantasy, at best.

    The story doesn't pick up as an actual

    tale until after the halfway mark, and when it does, the writing immediately becomes much less enjoyable. Anyone who knows my reading tastes knows I love flowery prose, but many of the descriptions in the fantasy "half" of this book go far past flowery, straight through whimsical, and land smack-dab in nonsense.

    Let me put it this way:

    is my 200th read of 2017, and there have only been two narrators out of the entire other 199 titles that held a candle to how terrible Alice is. She starts the book off poorly, rambling about her anger issues without giving us any reason as to

    she's talking about them. As it progresses,

    towards other characters (including attempting to kill them via vehicular manslaughter because she feels guilty for her own poor choices).

    She shouts and snaps constantly, has no respect for anyone (besides her mother), and judges everyone she meets hyper-critically. Her judgmental nature even borders on

    when she meets a character who has been driven to a broken mental state by entering the Hazel Wood: Alice has several internal monologues about how little she trusts the woman's hygiene and the state of the woman's home's cleanliness, solely because she doesn't deem the woman "sane enough".

    Even when she enlists the help of Finch, she is incessantly rude, critical, and offensive towards him. When she is

    called out on her offensive nature, she deflects, makes excuses, and has a general disregard for any harm she has caused. In one scenario, when he remarks on her misogynistic speech, her actual comeback is,

    (I read this three times in hopes of making sense of it before deciding that she learned her snark from old men in facebook comment threads).

    Beyond all of the ways in which Alice's character is incredibly harmful and is rarely - if ever - challenged for most of her behaviors, she's also just not well-written. She's hypocritical, self-contradicting, and outright

    Finch is introduced in a way that gave me actual optimism for the story: he's a classmate of hers who is kind and welcoming, seeks her friendship, and offers to face certain danger to help her find the Hazel Wood and her mother. Unfortunately, my optimism started to falter when I learned that Finch, the

    black character in the story (in New York City, no less), is commented on multiple times as being unattractive and "a waste of wealth" - never challenged.

    That was the first red flag - in a book with no commentary on anyone else's features, the

    person of color is the only unattractive one? - but it worsens when Finch, despite being a very present figure throughout the story, is never fleshed out. He feels incredibly one-dimensional from start to finish, though some of this may just be to blame on Alice's refusal to let him speak for more than thirty seconds without telling him to shut up.

    It felt like there was some small attempt to have a dialogue on racism and privilege when Finch talks to Alice about being afraid of racial profiling, but it's thrown away when Alice immediately insinuates that his father's wealth negates any racism he faces, and then further derails the conversation every time he tries to speak to her about it. By the end of the book, I resigned myself to the feeling that Finch was, in every shape and form, a Token Black Character™. His entire character arc felt so

    to read.

    Literally the only redeeming aspect of this book, for me, was the occasional time when we would get to hear one of Althea's tales. Sadly, they're incredibly few and far between - I think we only got two full tales in the entire book. I enjoyed those stories, and would probably read a bind-up of them, but within the context of the entire book, they weren't enough to salvage it.

    This book was just a total disaster from start to finish for me, and the only reason I didn't DNF it at the 40% mark was because I was so desperately hoping it would improve by the end. I would more than likely not pick up any future books by Melissa Albert, and cannot, in good faith, recommend this story to anyone.

    You can find this review and more

    on my blog!

  • Melanie

    Let me just start this off by saying that I normally only one star something if it has very problematic content. This book only has one element that made me uncomfortable (that I will talk about later on), but the main reason I’m giving this one s

    Let me just start this off by saying that I normally only one star something if it has very problematic content. This book only has one element that made me uncomfortable (that I will talk about later on), but the main reason I’m giving this one star is because it was so ungodly boring.

    Next, and this could be completely my fault, I feel like this is marketed as a YA Fantasy, when it takes the reader almost 250 pages, out of a 360 page book, to even get into the fantasy aspect and by that time I couldn't care less about some pseudo

    . This reads like a YA Contemporary Mystery and that is not a genre that I enjoy reading in the slightest, so maybe that is the main reason this didn’t work for me.

    So the basic premise of

    is that a seventeen-year-old girl named Alice has been on the run with her mother, Ella, for as long as she can remember. They go from city to city, house to house, sometimes sleeping in their car, always on the run from the “bad luck” that follows them. Alice’s grandmother, Ella’s mother, is a very famous author who wrote a collection of short stories that are incredibly hard to find in today’s world. The short stories are very dark fairytales, that have netted her grandmother a very cult-like fanbase that totally gave me some

    vibes if I’m being completely honest.

    Alice has never met her grandmother, and she’s never visited the exclusive estate she lives on called the Hazel Wood. But after Alice’s mother is kidnapped, she is desperate to find any means possible to finally visit the mysterious estate and to get her mother back once and for all.

    But this book was so incredibly slow. I had to bribe myself with chocolates to even finish it. This is a 360 page book, and it took me SEVENTEEN days to read it. That’s a little over 20 pages a day. And that’s honestly all I could do, because I was so uninvested. And it’s actually mindboggling to me that this book is even 360 pages long, because I feel like everything could have taken place in 150-200 pages, too.

    And Alice is such an unlikeable main character that isn’t supposed to be an unlikeable main character. She’s so rude, and self-centered, and unable to recognize her privilege because she can’t get over the fact that she grew up poor. She talks over people, and is demanding, and refuses to acknowledge her mistakes. I could never and will never connect with her, and it was honestly miserable to be inside of her head.

    So, the problematic element is the treatment of the biracial side character who Alice spends most of the book with. Finch is the only person of color in this book, and Alice constantly remarks on how unattractive he is, and it feels really bad. Then, when they get into an altercation with a police officer, Finch tries to explain to Alice about racial profiling and how he feels uncomfortable being around cops and being noncompliant around cops, while Alice just completely disregards his very valid feelings by saying he’s rich and privileged. Like that negates the color of his skin and the racism he faces every single day because of it, because she grew up poor and on the run with her mom. On top of the fact that Alice will never let Finch speak, because she’s always interrupting and talking over him. It just reads badly and made my very uncomfortable while reading. Also, Alice even got physically abusive a couple times and I just wasn't there for it at all.

    The other minor thing that just made me feel a little uncomfortable while reading was that this book kind of romanticizes kidnapping. Like, Alice has very fond memories of being kidnapped when she was six and it feels almost like glorifying it. Maybe this just rubbed me the wrong way because I was always deathly afraid of being kidnapped as a child, but I didn’t enjoy reading her memories on kidnapping whatsoever, either.

    And the last thing is that the deus ex machina in this book is very strong. So many things just so conveniently happened, especially at the end of this book when we are finally in a fairytale land, to wrap up this story.

    The only thing I truly liked about this book were the two chapters that were stories that Finch was retelling to Alice from inside her Grandmother’s book,

    . Both of these were honestly great, and I enjoyed them immensely and it showcased that the author does have talent for writing. Unfortunately, this is only two chapters of a thirty-one chapter book. But both of those short stories were good and I enjoyed each one more than the rest of this entire book combined

    Also, have you seen the finished copy of this? With its foil sprayed pages? Holy moly, it’s honestly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever laid eyes upon. But you all know what they say about judging books by their covers…

    This book just wasn’t for me or my tastes. We aren’t even in 2018 yet and I can tell you that this will 100% make my most disappointing publications of 2018 list. And from all my friends’ reviews, I truly think this is going to just be a polarizing book! People are going to hate and dread picking it up, or they are going to be completely engrossed, love, and devour it. And you guys know that just because I disliked this book, it doesn’t mean that your feelings are invalid. If you liked this book then I am truly happy for you, but this book just really didn’t work for me. And if you do decide to pick this one up, I hope you find way more enjoyment within its pages than I did.

    Content warnings for underage alcohol consumption, drug use, self-harm, talk of suicide, and mild violence.

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    Buddy read with

    ! ❤

    This was in the February 2018

    box!

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