The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

by Melissa Albert
4.4 23


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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Welcome to Melissa Albert's The Hazel Woodthe fiercely stunning New York Times bestseller with six starred reviews everyone is raving about!

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250147905
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 9
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Melissa Albert is the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog and the managing editor of She has written for McSweeney’s, Time Out Chicago, MTV, and more. Melissa is from Illinois and lives in Brooklyn. The Hazel Wood is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt


Althea Proserpine is raising her daughter on fairy tales. Once upon a time she was a girl named Anna Parks, one of the legion of midcentury dreamers who came to Manhattan with their hopes tucked into a suitcase. Then she went missing. Then she came back, and achieved an odd kind of fame, glittering from some angles but dark from others. Now she's gone again, fled to a turreted house in the deep dark woods, where she lives with her five-year-old daughter and her husband, an actual royal — she just can't quit fairy tales. When I get her on the phone, her voice is as alluring as her most famous photo, the one with the ring and the cigarette. I ask if I can come talk to her in person, and her laugh is hot whiskey on ice. "You'd get lost on the way to finding me," she says. "You'd need breadcrumbs, or a spool of thread."

— "The Queen of the Hinterland," Vanity Fair, 1987

My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunroof, whipping by in a river of blue. My mom tells me that's impossible — our car doesn't have a sunroof. But I can still close my eyes and see it, so I'm holding on to it.

We've crossed the country a hundred times, in our beater car that smells like French fries and stale coffee and plasticky strawberries, from the day I fed my Tinkerbell lipstick into the slats of the heater vent. We stayed in so many places, with so many people, that I never really learned the concept of stranger danger.

Which is why, when I was six years old, I got into an old blue Buick with a redheaded man I'd never met and drove with him for fourteen hours straight — plus two stops for bathroom breaks and one for pancakes — before the cops pulled us over, tipped off by a waitress who recognized my description from the radio.

By then I'd figured out the man wasn't who he said he was: a friend of my grandmother, Althea, taking me to see her. Althea was already secluded in her big house then, and I'd never met her. She had no friends, just fans, and my mother told me that's what the man was. A fan who wanted to use me to get to my grandma.

After they'd determined I hadn't been assaulted, after the redheaded man was identified as a drifter who'd stolen a car a few miles from the place we were staying in Utah, my mother decided we'd never talk about it again. She didn't want to hear it when I told her the man was kind, that he'd told me stories and had a warm laugh that made me believe, deep in my six-year-old's heart, he was actually my father come to claim me. She'd been shown the redheaded man in custody through a one-way mirror, and swore she'd never seen him before.

For a few years I'd persisted in believing he was my dad. When we left Utah after his arrest, to live for a few months in an artists' retreat outside of Tempe, I worried he wouldn't be able to find me again.

He never did. By the time I turned nine, I'd recognized my secret belief for what it was: a child's fantasy. I folded it away like I did all the things I didn't need — old toys, bedtime superstitions, clothes that didn't fit. My mom and I lived like vagrants, staying with friends till our welcome wore through at the elbows, perching in precarious places, then moving on. We didn't have the luxury of being nostalgic. We didn't have a chance to stand still. Until the year I turned seventeen, and Althea died in the Hazel Wood.

When my mother, Ella, got the letter, a violent shudder ran through her. That was before she opened it. The envelope was creamy green, printed with her name and the address of the place we were staying. We'd arrived the night before, and I wondered how it found us.

She pulled an ivory letter opener from the table beside her, because we were house-sitting for the kind of people who kept bits of murdered elephants around for show. With shaking hands, she slit the envelope jaggedly through its middle. Her nail polish was so red it looked like she'd cut herself.

As she shook it out, the letter caught the light, so I could see blocks of black text through the back but couldn't read them.

Ella made a sound I didn't recognize, a gasp of complicated pain that cut my breath off clean. She held the paper so close to her face it colored her skin a faint celery green, her mouth moving as she read it through again, again. Then she crumpled the letter up and tossed it into the trash.

We weren't supposed to smoke inside that place, a cramped apartment on New York's Upper West Side that smelled like expensive French soap and wet Yorkies. But Ella pulled out a cigarette anyway, and lit it off an antique crystal lighter. She sucked in smoke like it was a milk shake, tapping the fingers of one hand against the heavy green stone she wore at the pulse of her throat.

"My mother's dead," she said on an exhale, then coughed.

The news hit me like a depth charge, a knot of pain in my stomach that kept expanding. But it had been a long time since I'd spent my hours dreaming of Althea. The news shouldn't have hurt me at all.

Ella squatted down in front of me, put her hands on my knees. Her eyes were shiny but dry. "This isn't ... forgive me, but this isn't a bad thing. It's not. It could change things for us, it could —" Her voice cracked in half before she could finish. She put her head down on my knees and sobbed once. It was a desolate sound that belonged somewhere else, out there with dark roads and dead-leaf smells, not in this bright room in the middle of a loud, bright city.

When I kissed the crown of her hair it smelled like diner coffee and the smoke twining up from her cigarette. She breathed in, out, and turned her face up to look at me.

"Do you know what this means for us?"

I stared at her, then around at the room we were sitting in: rich and stuffy and somebody else's. "Wait. Does it mean we get the Hazel Wood?"

My grandmother's estate, which I'd only seen in photos, felt like a place I remembered from some alternate, imaginary childhood. One where I rode horses and went to summer camp. It was the daydream I disappeared into when I needed a break from the endless cycle of highways and new schools and the smell of unfamiliar houses. I'd paste myself into its distant world of fountains and hedges, highballs and a pool so glittering bright you had to squint against it.

But my mother's bony hand was around my wrist, pulling me out of the Technicolor lawns of the Hazel Wood. "God, no. Never. It means we're free."

"Free of what?" I asked stupidly, but she didn't answer. She stood, tossing her half-smoked cigarette into the trash right on top of the letter, and walked straight-backed out of the room, like there was something she had to do.

When she was gone, I poured cold coffee on the trash can fire and pulled out the wet letter. Parts of it were eaten into ash, but I flattened the soggy remainder against my knees. The type was as dense and oddly spaced as the text on an old telegram.

The letter didn't seem new. It even smelled like it had been sent from the past. I could imagine someone typing it up on an old Selectric, like the one in the Françoise Sagan postcard I hung up over my bed every place we stayed. I breathed in its scent of ash and powdery perfume as I scanned what was left. There wasn't much of it: we send our condolences, and come at your earliest.

And one marooned word in a sea of singed paper: Alice. My name. I couldn't read anything that came before or after it, and I saw no other reference to myself. I dropped the wet mess into the trash.


Until Althea Proserpine (born Anna Parks) died all alone on the grand estate she'd named the Hazel Wood, my mother and I had spent our lives as bad luck guests. We moved at least twice a year and sometimes more, but the bad luck always found us.

In Providence, where my mom taught art to senior citizens, the whole first floor of the house we rented flooded while we slept, on a rainless August night. A wildcat crept through a window into our trailer in Tacoma, to piss all over our stuff and eat the last of my birthday cake.

We tried to wait out a full school year in an LA guest-house Ella rented from an earnest hippie with a trust fund, but four months in the woman's husband started suffering from symptoms of chronic fatigue. After Ella moved to the main house to help out, the ceiling fell in over the master bedroom, and the hippie sleepwalked into the swimming pool. We didn't want to start a death count, so we'd moved along.

When we traveled I kept an eagle eye on the cars behind us, like bad luck could take human form and trail you in a minivan. But bad luck was sneakier than that. You couldn't outsmart it, you could only move along when it had you in its sights.

After Althea died, we stopped moving. Ella surprised me with a key to a place in Brooklyn, and we moved in with our pitiful store of stuff. The weeks ticked by, then the months. I remained vigilant, but our suitcases stayed under the bed. The light in our apartment was all the colors of metal — blinding platinum in the morning, gold in the afternoon, bronze from streetlights at night. I could watch the light roll and change over our walls for hours. It was mine.

But I still saw the shadow of the bad luck: a woman who trailed me through a used bookstore, whispered something obscene in my ear as she picked my phone from my pocket. Streetlights winking out over my head, one by one, as I walked down the street after midnight. The same busker showing up with his guitar on every train I rode for a week, singing "Go Ask Alice" in his spooky tenor.

"Pfft," Ella had said. "That's not bad luck, that's New York."

She'd been different since her mother's death. She smoked less, gained weight. She bought a few T-shirts that weren't black.

Then we came home one night to find our apartment windows cracked into glittering stars. Ella pressed her lips together and looked at me. I braced myself for marching orders, but she shook her head.

"New York." Her voice was hard and certain. "No more bad luck for us, Alice. You hear me? It's done."

So I went to public school. I hung Christmas lights around the plaster mantel behind our bed, and took a job at a café that turned into a bar when the sun went down. Ella started talking about things she'd never talked about before: painting our walls, buying a new sofa. College applications.

It was that last one that got us into trouble — Ella's dream of a normal life for me, one with a future. Because if you've spent your whole life running, how do you learn to stand still? How do you figure out the right way to turn your straw house into brick?

Ella did it the way we'd seen it in the movies, all those black-and-white AMC lie-fests we'd watched in motel rooms, in rented bungalows, in converted garden sheds and guesthouses and even, once, student housing.

She married up.

Sharp October sunlight sliced into my eyes as the train rattled over the bridge to Brooklyn. I had a head full of my mother's failing marriage and what felt like five cracked teeth in my mouth. I've had anger issues all my life, which Ella treated with meditation tapes, low-rent Reiki therapy she taught herself from a book, and the mouth guard I was supposed to wear but couldn't stand. During the day, I bit back every nasty thing I thought about my stepfather. At night, I took it out on my teeth.

The man my mother married, not four months after he asked her out at an event she was working as a cocktail waitress, lived on the second-to-top floor of a building off Fifth Avenue. His name was Harold, he was rich as Croesus, and he thought Lorrie Moore was a line of house paint. That was all you needed to know about Harold.

I was on my way to Salty Dog, home of the first job I'd ever lived anywhere long enough to keep. It was a café owned by a couple from Reykjavík, who'd put me through a six-hour cupping seminar before I was even allowed to clean the coffee machine. It was a good job for me — I could put as much into it as I wanted. I could work hard and make perfect coffee and be friendly to everyone who came in. Or I could do it all on autopilot and talk to no one, and tips barely went down.

Today I lost myself in the comforting rhythms of the café, pulling shots and making pour-over coffees, picking up scones with silver tongs and breathing in the burnt-caramel scent of ground beans.

"Don't look now, but Guy in the Hat is here." My coworker, Lana, breathed hot in my ear. Lana was a ceramicist in her second year at Pratt, who looked like David Bowie's even hotter sister and wore hideous clothes that looked good on her anyway. Today she was in a baggy orange rebel alliance–style jumpsuit. She smelled like Michelangelo must have — plaster dust and sweat. Somehow that looked good on her, too.

Guy in the Hat was our least favorite customer. Lana pretended to be busy cleaning the milk steamer, so of course I had to deal with him.

"Hey, Alice," he said, making a point of reading my name tag even though he came in every day. He bopped his head to the T. Rex playing from Lana's phone. "Cool tunes. Is that the Stone Roses?"

"Oh, my god," Lana said in a stage whisper.

He stared at the menu for a good two minutes, playing the counter like a drum. Anger gathered under my skin as I waited, making it prickle. Finally, he ordered what he always did. I stuffed his biscotti into a bag, handed over a bottle of Pellegrino, and moved behind the register so he couldn't force me to do the complicated high five he'd been trying to teach me my last few shifts.

I watched him walk away, hating the short stump of his neck, the fine blond hairs on his arms, the jumpy way he snapped his fingers off the beat. My blood went high as he brushed past a seated woman, then pressed his hand to her shoulder in heavy apology.

"God, what an asshole," Lana said at full volume, watching Guy in the Hat fumble with the door on his way out. She hip-checked me. "Alice, chill. You look like you wanna strangle him. Come on, it's just Fedora Closet."

The anger receded, leaving a hot embarrassment behind. "I wasn't going to —" I began, but Lana cut me off. She was always good for that.

"Did I tell you I saw Christian naked?" She propped her chin in her hand.

Christian was our boss. He had a tiny, beautiful wife and a huge, red-faced baby that looked like a demon in a book of woodcuts. I tried but failed to think of an innocent reason for Lana to have seen him stripped.

"Are you ... is it because you had sex with him?"

She laughed like I was far less worldly than she was, which I was but fuck you, Lana. "Can you imagine? Luisa would sic her terrifying baby on me. No, he commissioned me to do a sculpture of the family."


"Yeah," she said, already losing interest in her story.

"Oh. Was he ... was it gross?"

She shrugged, looking at something on her phone.

I had the idea, when Ella started going out with Harold, that I'd make Lana into my friend so I'd have someone of my own, but it hadn't really worked that way. She was more into having an audience than a pal.

I grabbed a rag and went out to bus, just to force Lana to make some drinks for a change. As I moved between tables, I got the prickling, shoulder-bladey feeling of someone watching me. I'm not Lana — in most situations, I go unnoticed — so it made me clumsy. I knocked over a teacup, cursed aloud, and swiped up the mess. As I did so, I cased the customers.

There was a table of women in flashing engagement rings, clustered around green teas and a single coconut donut with four forks. Two identically bearded, plaid-shirted guys at separate tables, hunched over matching Macs and unaware of each other. A woman trying to read Jane Eyre, side-eyeing the checked-out mom and spoon-banging toddler one table over. And a man in a Carhartt jacket and sunglasses sitting near the door. He wore a stocking cap despite the mugginess, and was nursing a cup of water.

Then three things happened: Lana dropped the plate she was holding, which landed with a crack on the checkerboard tile; the Carhartt man looked up over the tops of his sunglasses; and a shock wave of recognition rolled through me, leaving me shaking in my shoes.

We stared at each other, the man and I, and he saw me remember. As we locked eyes, I recalled things I'd forgotten: ten years ago, his car had smelled like Christmas trees. He'd ordered pancakes and eggs when we'd stopped for breakfast. I'd been wearing a purple corduroy jumper over a striped T-shirt and tights, and white cowboy boots with silver studs I was extremely proud of. He'd told me stories, some I recognized and some I didn't. I could never remember what they were about, after, but I remembered the feeling they gave me: the feeling you get from good poetry, real poetry, the kind that makes your neck tingle and your eyes tear up.


Excerpted from "The Hazel Wood"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Melissa Albert.
Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Hazel Wood 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous 19 days ago
Such a dark, messed up fairy tale. All future books will be on my must-have list!
Anonymous 8 days ago
Alice is a complicated character. We learn about her in bits and pieces as she learns about herself. A quest for answers and identity. Never a dull moment. The author has a way with words. A hard to put down fantasy novel fascinating for both teens and adults.
Anonymous 10 days ago
I loved this book! It was exactly what I wanted it to be
Anonymous 17 days ago
A wonderfully dark twisted fairytale. I devoured this book within a day and my husband did as well. If you're looking for something to suck you in and spirit you away to another reality, this is it!
Anonymous 18 days ago
I couldn't put it down, excellent writing and a very unique take on fairy tales. I'm really looking forward to what this author comes out with next!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Dark, magical, and alluring, The Hazel Wood is an incredibly exciting and unique take on modern fairytales. I couldn't put it down. If you enjoyed The Night Circus, you'll love this book!
Anonymous 6 days ago
It has been a long time since I have read a book where I couldn't guess the basic storyline. Kind of left Finch a bit unaccounted for, though. I'd like to know more about what he was doing and where he went (hence the 4 rather than 5 stars). Perhaps there will be a follow up?
Anonymous 7 days ago
I loved this book! Thank you for an excellent plot and flawed but loveable characters. I really appreciate that the characters weren't stupid,( it seems that's a fad with authors lately.) I sure hope that the author writes more and soon!
Anonymous 21 hours ago
Magically creepy...
Scarls17 2 days ago
Loved the concise, but descriptive writing style. Loved the characters, especially because it was impossible to know how to trust! This is a fairy tale on crack. It's dark and a bit brutal, but also extremely interesting because much of it is told in the real world. Highly recommend! (Note: I fell off a tiny bit at the end, but I think that may have been because I was so anxious to know how it ended.)
Anonymous 6 days ago
This book is ridiculously good. Prose at a level not often seen in YA (lyrical but never purple) and a compelling plot that mostly eschews the tropes so many young adult books rely on. Read it!
taramichelle 10 days ago
I absolutely adore dark fairy tales and so my expectations were high for The Hazel Wood. This book somehow surpassed them. It was an absolute delight to read and I loved how it subverted my expectations at every turn. Here are five reasons why you should read this wonderfully dark modern take on fairy tales. 1) The characters were stellar, I particularly loved Alice and Ellery. 2) The mystery was beautifully plotted and was beautifully intertwined with the fairy tales. 3) Melissa Albert's writing was gorgeous, I loved how clearly I could see the Hazel Wood and New York while reading. Both of the settings really came alive through her words. 4) It was very creepy and dark without being too much. Albert did an excellent job of walking that line. 5) The ending was absolutely perfect. I can understand why some people won't be happy with it but I adore this type of ending, particularly since I don't seen them that often. I would highly recommend if you like darker fantasy stories! I was absolutely enchanted by The Hazel Wood and I can't wait to read this one again. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lisa_Loves_Literature 15 days ago
This was a very unique story, even with its familiar themes throughout it. A book of fairy tales that are coming out into the "normal" world. A reclusive woman who after writing the book and publishing only a few copies, disappears. Her daughter on the run, having to move with her own daughter from place to place, seemingly whenever their luck gave out, or maybe someone from the fairy tale world showed up. The fairy tales weren't ones that were your standard stories. Nope, they were all pretty grim, pretty dark. And I mean even grimmer than the original Grimm Brothers' fairy tales. The characters were all very interesting, and I definitely got to one point where I figured it was going to leave us hanging, and we'd have to wait for the the next book to come out to get some answers. However, even though this seems to be a series, at least it is listed as book 1 on Goodreads, I feel like it ended in a way that doesn't give a chance to go on. At least not with the characters we followed in this story. But I guess we'll see how that goes!
Whimsies_of_a_Nerd_Girl 17 days ago
***This book was provided by NetGalley and Flatiron Books in exchange for my honest review*** As one can read in the summary, the main plot of “The Hazel Wood” is for the main character, Alice, to find her mother who has been stolen away. I don’t believe Alice is completely shocked by this though because when she was a young girl she was attempted to be kidnapped by a man that she had originally thought to be her father. They’ve been living on the road ever since she can remember as a very young girl - always on the run from bad luck. The o Alice’s fellow classmate, Ellery, has reason to believe that her mother has been taken away by characters from the Hinterland - a dark and disturbing place which is the setting of her grandmother’s book. Throughout most of the novel, Alice and Ellery are following clues and signs left behind by these supposed characters so she can try to find her missing mother. This novel was slow to start in action, but with good reason. Due to Alice having never read The Hazel Wood, we have to understand her backstory to give us a bigger picture of her life on the road. I quite enjoyed the backstory of our main character - it left some loops of information out that gave some mystery to the book. As I got further along in the book I think the story could have used a little more “spicing up” in the action department. There are multiple fairy tales in her grandmother’s novel, yet you only see a few of them referenced in the entire book. If you have that many stories I think an author should put them to good use for a fantasy novel such as this one. I very much enjoyed the characters, especially the dynamic between Alice and Ellery. Ellery was the closest thing to a friend that Alice has ever had due to her life always on the run. You get to see that friendship bloom as well as the need for Alice to trust Ellery in a world that she has no one left with her mom being taken away. Although I felt bad for something that happens between Alice and Ellery towards the middle-ish part of the story, but I will leave the spoilers out for readers wanting to pick this book up! My number one favorite element of this book was the metaphorical prose of the story. This author is very good with words and describing everyday common daily happenings from Alice’s point of view. It made me see things in another light for having a way with words. I loved this so much! The many shocking twists and turns towards the end of the book will leave readers surprised. There are quite a few loose ends that the author presents to readers in which gives us a better understanding of the story. The nature of the ending seemed somewhat anticlimactic to me, in my opinion. I feel as if something “more” should have popped up in the end for readers to leave more to the imagination or to give us some reason to believe there will be a sequel to this book (which according to GoodReads there is). In the middle of the novel, there were so many small scenes happening at once that I’d forget who came into the picture or what happened before so I was forced to reread the previous passage to understand what was happening. Other than that overall, I think this book was very well written. “The Hazel Wood” was very much like a story of Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit hole with a mix of a YA fantasy version of the film “Inception”. If readers like these concepts I believe other readers will love this fairy tale story! I give this book a rating of 4 stars!
Seoling 19 days ago
I have lots of mixed emotions when it comes to THE HAZEL WOOD. There are so many things to appreciate and gush over because make no mistake - the world of Hinterland that Melissa Albert creates is equally as lush and mesmerizing as it is creepy and haunting. I absolutely fell face first into this story and I am sorry to myself for taking so long to get to this gem because it is a wonderfully done book. I want so much success to come for both this story and its writer because I know Melissa Albert to be such an endearing and lovely person and she has so much support from the book community (if you don't know, she's the founding editor for BNTeens), so it's really gratifying to see how far she's come and I could tell how much thought and devotion went into creating the world that many people have championed for after reading it. This book sucked me in with that very first excerpt from Vanity Fair about Althea. I don't know what it was about it - but it was just impossible not to turn the page. I was fascinated by how modern the story was - since it took place in New York, there are very familiar things to me as a native New Yorker that I loved Melissa alluding to! I don't live in the city, so there were some other nuances that I wasn't privvy to which I liked as well! But her portrayal of NYC is not shiny things and pretty lights, it's grit and dirt and everything actually true about the urban jungle. And then she delves into other parts of New York because the main character, has to travel upstate to find Hinterland. So long story short - Alice and her mother have always moved because bad luck follows them no matter what and her mother thinks it's because of her mother (Alice's grandmother), Althea. Althea lives in seclusion in the Hazel Wood while the world lives on with cultish fanatics who just really seem to be obsessed with her collection of stories, The Tales from the Hinterland. Althea passes away and then Alice's mother is taken. Alice has no choice but to turn to Ellery Finch, a boy she goes to school with and who so happens to be incredibly familiar with her grandmother's work. So they venture on a creepy and perilous journey in order to find her mother once more, but what awaits them in the Hazel Wood and Hinterland is beyond imagination! So back to the gushing - in terms of the folklore behind Hinterland and the Hazel Wood, I was absolutely blown away by the originality the storytelling. I'm so excited for Melissa to write the actual anthology of stories because I just need this for my own collection. Make no mistake, it is seriously haunting and very Brother Grimss-esque when it comes to the tone and the overall storytelling. I love the original fairytales as they were - all grim and dark and twisted with no signs of happiness and fairydust. That's the way that fairytales were written and I love that she follows that sort of formula. As a protagonist, I did not necessarily like Alice at first and I think it's nice that this sort of thing happens. She struck me as one of those characters who would just grow on me and she did. As THE HAZEL WOOD went on, I started really appreciating her character and the struggles, both emotionally and physically that she had to go through to find her mother. I mean, she was thrown into an impossible situation and really, can anyone relate to what she goes through because I know I can't.
Trebble 20 days ago
I didn't know what to expect with this book but dark fairy tale is something I do gravitate toward. I was not disappointed and really found the tale to be inventive and unusual. I did see some things that felt like retellings, but it really felt like something new. I admit it took me a while to get used to Alice and really like her. Part of the problem is that it took a long while to get to Alice's true origin story. Even though that was frustrating in part, you also knew that when you got the story it would have to be close to the end and that it would bring all the elements together. I also was a bit frustrated with not knowing all the fairy tales we encountered. Like the stories were dangled just out of reach and I wish it came with a companion book of the fairy tales. Tales I know would be hard to read as the ones we got to know were dark as if the Grimm brothers took an even darker turn with their tales. What kept me going was the mystery I was determined to solve and that I really started to like Alice. I really wanted a win for her and I wasn't sure this story would end on a positive note. I won't tell you if it does end well, but I will say that the story felt complete (despite it being the first in the series) and not everything ended in how most stories end. I'm extremely curious to where the author will take the next book. I give this story 4 stars. Despite the problems I had in the plot, it was very readable and I also found it very unique. I also think that some of the problems with the plot were intentional. It mirrors Alice who is messy and dark and who we learn about as she learns about herself. There is great character growth in this book.
BookDragonGirl 22 days ago
I really liked this. This is a very strange creature that I didn’t always understand, but I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. But, I will say, this book isn’t for everyone. I like strange, quirky books A LOT!!! And this is extremely strange & quirky....and there’s a lot going on!! I would definitely like to read it again!! It’s got a lot of layers, and I get the overall, but I’d like to peel back some of those layers!! ~I would like to thank Netgalley and the Flatiron Books for a copy of this book. My views are my own honest opinion
Rebecca_J_Allen 22 days ago
The Hazel Wood is as dark and creepy as the Grimm fairy tales its main character Alice has spent her childhood reading. The author’s vivid description pulls you first into Alice’s life in New York City and then into the stranger world of Hazel Wood and beyond. Alice’s thirst for the truth about herself and drive to find her mother propel the story forward, and obstacles at every turn and keep the pages turning quickly. I particularly liked the stories within this story–excerpts from her grandmother’s book provide glimpses of the twisted characters and deeds that lie ahead on Alice’s path. The Hazel Wood is a great pick for fans of Stranger Things and Holly Black’s novels. I requested an advanced reader copy of The Hazel Wood in exchange for an unbiased review. For more book recommendations, check out my blog:
book_junkee 22 days ago
I had seen so many people losing their minds over this, so I was quite excited to get a chance to borrow an arc from a friend and honestly, I don't know how to review this. Alice is the sort of MC that I struggle with. She's rude and I loathed her pretty much the entire time I was reading it. Because I didn't care about her, I didn't care about what she was going through. I liked Finch, but he wasn't enough to carry the story for me. Plot wise, it was sloooooooow. It felt like nothing happened for the first half of the book and even when I got to the end, I still had my WITAF face on. The writing was pretty, yet also somewhat pretentious. There were several times that I didn't feel smart enough to read the book and I did spend a lot of time confused. I don't know if it was the hype or I was in a book hangover or it's just a case of "it's not you book, it's me". I do know that I read this in June and wanted to try again, so I requested it...yet, I now can't bring myself to take the time to reread. Overall, I like the idea and the creepiness and I did somewhat enjoy the story, but I never felt captivated by it. **Huge thanks to Flatiron Books for providing the arc free of charge**
book_junkee 22 days ago
I had seen so many people losing their minds over this, so I was quite excited to get a chance to borrow an arc from a friend and honestly, I don't know how to review this. Alice is the sort of MC that I struggle with. She's rude and I loathed her pretty much the entire time I was reading it. Because I didn't care about her, I didn't care about what she was going through. I liked Finch, but he wasn't enough to carry the story for me. Plot wise, it was sloooooooow. It felt like nothing happened for the first half of the book and even when I got to the end, I still had my WITAF face on. The writing was pretty, yet also somewhat pretentious. There were several times that I didn't feel smart enough to read the book and I did spend a lot of time confused. I don't know if it was the hype or I was in a book hangover or it's just a case of "it's not you book, it's me". I do know that I read this in June and wanted to try again, so I requested it...yet, I now can't bring myself to take the time to reread. Overall, I like the idea and the creepiness and I did somewhat enjoy the story, but I never felt captivated by it. **Huge thanks to Flatiron Books for providing the arc free of charge**
tpolen 22 days ago
Not really being a fan of the more light-hearted fairy tales, I found this book description very appealing. I came to the rapid conclusion that The Hazel Wood is wildly creative, and fans of dark fairy tales will adore it. Writers in particular will enjoy the plot and character creation aspects mentioned. With its heightened sense of mystery, ominous cast of characters, and detailed descriptions, this book enthralled me. Twists, surprises, wonder - it's all here. Some readers may not enjoy the pop culture references, but I did. Alice is well-read, and it seemed right for her character. Hinterland is both magical and threatening, and it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole with this book. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC
PaulAllard 22 days ago
YA novel about alternative fairy tales' encroachment on our world – Quite good This novel, aimed at the Young Adult readership, involves Alice trying to find out more about a book of fairy tales written by her grandmother. When the fairytale world and ours inter-mingle, problems arise and Alice ends up on a voyage of self-discovery. The characterisation is good with a fair amount of introspection and some of the descriptions are original and well thought-out. The plot takes a bit too long to develop and to reach its end. Quite good but I feel that there are better examples of this genre. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
BlondewithBooks 22 days ago
Have you ever felt your heart start beating so fast that it may burst out of your chest at any moment, or felt an icy chill run through you that feels like your spine morphed into an icicle? That is exactly how I would describe my experience of reading The Hazel Wood. Learning about Althea’s Tales from the Hinterland had me on the edge of me seat (sometimes so far on the edge that almost fell off a few times) throughout the entire book. Debut author, Melissa Albert beckons readers to embark on a journey to Hazel Wood in this dark and twisted, yet oddly satisfying, new “fairy tale”. Alice Proserpine is the seventeen year old granddaughter of the talented, but reclusive author of Tales from the Hinterland, Althea Proserpine. After many years of running away from what could only be described as bad luck with her mother, Alice received a letter informing her of Althea’s death at her estate, the Hazel Wood. Just when she had thought her luck had changed, Alice’s mother is taken by someone who claims to have come from Hinterland. Her only clue: a message from her mother saying, “Stay away from Hazel Wood.” During her years of running, Alice had done a decent job of avoiding Althea’s crazy fans, and keeping to herself most of the time But with a missing mother, she realized that she was going to need all the help she could get. Reluctantly, she recruits a classmate by the name of Ellery Finch, a Hinterland fanboy with a dark secret of his own. With her new companion, Alice sets off on a quest to Hazel Wood, and eventually gets more out of the journey than she bargained for. Alice steps into a new world where her grandmother’s dark tales were born. There she discovers the whole story of what actually happened to her family and why her luck as been so horrible all those years. Typically, I am not the type to read dark, gloomier books, but the intensity of this novel held a firm grip on my mind and refused to let go. It was very well written, and I expect to see more from Melissa Albert in the future. With that being said, there Is something that should be known before a reader chooses this particular book. Readers who have suffered from anxiety or depression that has led to self harm should NOT make this selection. There are a few scenes that could trigger an emotional response in some readers. This needs to be known to ensure the safety of readers’ (my followers, especially) mental and physical health. Overall, I would recommend this book to those who enjoy thrillers with a bizarre twist. Melissa Albert is a brilliant author. I am just going to have to keep my fingers crossed in the hope that she actually writes Tales from the Hinterland. My Advanced Readers Copy was given to me by the publishers of Flatiron Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not entitled to any compensation for this review.