The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Amazon|The Book Depository
Series: The Hazel Wood, #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 30, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
I wanted to love The Hazel Wood, which has been on my to-read list since Fall 2017. When I finally got around to reading it, I could hardly believe how the modern fairy tale genre could fail me. The synopsis was so great, and my hands were literally itching to own a copy.
My fairy-tale tag on GoodReads is filled with both good and bad attempts at mixing modern elements with fairy-tales, and I hate to admit that this falls in that latter category. The writing, while good but not great, really failed to assist in imagining this world. This should not have been a problem for even new, or re-imagined fairy-tales — they have familiar enough elements that the audience should have no time picturing what the world is like.
The main characters of Alice and Finch are not interesting enough. There were a lot of things that just didn’t make sense about them, and for not knowing characters that well there were many moments where it felt like they were acting out of character. Perhaps I just wasn’t following along as closely because I was not interested in most of the story.
Overall, a great idea but poor execution. I didn’t want to rate this so low but what I can do but be honest.
The highly anticipated sequel to Melissa Albert’s beloved, New York Times bestselling debut The Hazel Wood!
In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.
With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home...
This will not be the last time I give the first novel in a series a less than stellar two stars and still continue to read the series. The Night Country is proof that things will not continue to get better no matter how on point the genre is for me. Throne of Glass is the most recent series that I continued to read after not loving the first two books as much as everyone else in the YA Fantasy world.
There were moments when it felt like the story could have gone in a mystical and haunting direction but the author veered constantly, yanking the opportunity for a truly beautiful story to unfold. The writing is better than The Hazel Wood, and there is a lot more going on that I enjoyed pockets of this story.
If you loved The Hazel Wood, you’ll probably love this book. Just one of those cases where this series just wasn’t for me.