review

The Hazel Wood

This is one of the books I received for my February book boxes. Well, I lie – I actually received two copies of this book!! And I was really looking forward to reading it! It sounded like a mix of a twisted Alice in Wonderland, plus some dark fairytales! I love fairytales, so as I said, was super excited. Here is a brief write-up for the book:

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 think now is the time to say that I did not enjoy this book. I was probably so disappointed with it because I had been so excited about it. There were good points – it wasn’t a terrible book – but it just wasn’t what I expected or wanted, and not in the good-unexpected-enjoyable way. To start with – the setting took me by surprise. The majority of the story takes place in our world, not The Hazel Wood as I would have thought. In fact, we didn’t really enter The Hazel Wood until maybe 2/3 of the way through the book. I enjoyed Alice being in the Hazel Wood – it was actually very interesting! But the time it took to get there was, in my opinion, not worth it. Which brings we to my next point about the pacing. There just seemed to be a lot of unnecessary set up and talking about ‘stuff’ in the first parts of the book. It felt like while writing Melissa Albert got to where Alice entered the Hazel Wood, realized she had to wrap up the story and rushed the ending. If we could reverse the time spent in the ‘real world’ v The Hazel Wood, I think it would’ve have been more enjoyable.

The characters. I didn’t find Alice overly relatable or even all that nice. I understand she’s got walls in place, but the way that she treats Ellery sometimes is just plain mean. Alice was rude, whiny and could be quite selfish and it didn’t inspire me to want to continue to read her journey. Ellery helped that though. I did like his character and thought that his story was played out well. In particular the scene in the cat after they’ve been spoken to by the police just emphasizes why I don’t like Alice and I do like Ellery.

However the most intriguing part of the book was the ‘stories’ that were written by Alice’s grandmother. The chapters dedicated to those stories were by far my favourite chapters and I could definitely read a collection of those stories! I think including more of those would have also made the book more tolerable. These stories I think showcased the authors writing talents more than the rest of the book. I was definitely more invested in those stories than the actual story in the book!

Without giving spoilers, I did like certain parts of the ending. It was quite clever how the ending came about. But it was figured out and over too fast, using ‘time moves different here’ as as excuse. Overall, as I mentioned earlier, I was incredibly disappointed by the book. And this makes me upset saying it! I know a lot of people have loved the book, so I would say to read it yourself and get your own opinion, but for me, I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5 stars.

If you do want to grab your own copy, you can do so here 😊

If you have read the book, pleeeease talk to me! I’m super interested in others opinions on this one!!

Happy readings my friends!

-Bec

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