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  • Writer's pictureMaree

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

“Look until the leaves turn red, sew the worlds up with thread. If your journey's left undone, fear the rising of the sun.”

The Hazel Wood envelops you in the eerie world of fairy tales, blending them with fantasy and reality. This book has been on my To-Be-Read for a while as I was waiting until autumn—it has a very autumny vibe. It also is very creepy at times. Even though I’m in the Southern Hemisphere, I’ll read it in October next time.

Alice grew up on the road with her mother, running from misfortunes that kept following them. Her reclusive grandmother, famous for her rare book of dark fairy tales, appears to be the reason behind the strange things which happen to them. They receive word her grandmother is dead. When her mother disappears, Alice is plunged into her own dark fairy tale, taking her classmate, a fanatic of her grandmother’s book, with her.

This book was so hard to put down. There was so much suspense, especially in the first half. I was genuinely creeped out most of the way through, but there were so many hilarious one-liners amongst the darkness.

“An old woman wearing fur and pearly lipstick tried to scowl at me, but Botox took all the mean out of it.”

The world-building was beautiful and quirky. This was a book I didn’t want to try and anticipate what was going to happen, so instead let myself be taken for the ride. I didn’t want it to end.

It was refreshing to have a main character who is moody and a little bit angry. Finch helped level this out. Part of the suspense was due to not knowing how many of the characters fitted in, or why they were doing what they were doing. The descriptions of characters, were creative, although it could be easy to not understand the references. There were a lot of pop culture references, which is both good and bad (perhaps for the future or readers who don’t get the references).

“…I was walking into Ron Weasley’s worst nightmare.”

I loved the concepts of storytelling and storytellers in this book. The second half helped make me feel like a child again. The fairy tales which were included were fascinating and dark. I would have liked to have the others included as well. The fact that Alice remembered places or stages in her life by thinking about which book she was reading at the time was somewhat relate-able.

At a point in the beginning, there seemed to be so much back story, but it didn’t take away from the suspense and motion. Some of the descriptions seemed forced, but again, they were still really creative.

It’s a shame that a book can’t be read the same the second time through—knowing what happens—but I look forward to rereading The Hazel Wood and being just as creeped out and enamoured with the world Albert has created once more.

“Life was a big thing to live without a map.”

4 stars

Published: 2018

Read: May 2019

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