The Hazelwood – Melissa Albert
You know when you hear EVERYONE and their cat talking about a book and then you get the chance to read a copy? That was me. I was legit like
But did this suffer from overhyped?
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.
Well… yes and no.
I legitimately loved the way this was told, it was dark and creepy and yet so teenage at the same time.
What we have is Alice who has spent her whole life being moved from state to state by her mother, Ella, as they try to outrun a streak of bad luck that seemingly follows them around. Alice is low-key obsessed with her famous writer grandmother, who after publishing an indie hit of twisted fairy tales, locks herself on her private estate and is rarely seen again. Ella escapes from the Hazelwood at the first opportunity and refuses to return, she also refuses to talk to Alice about her grandmother and the book that made her so famous. There was an interesting mix of discovering yourself and your heritage alongside learning about the fantasy world, which was a really enjoyable reading experience – even if it got super dark and creepy in some places!
The thing is though, from everyone else’s reviews I wasn’t really expecting a retelling of Alice in Wonderland and that’s pretty much what this becomes. Alice and Finch have to go into Hinterland and speak to this cast of eccentric fairytale characters. It started off being a bit more unique, so I did feel a little let down by that, but if you set that aside, this is a solid book. I only wish I’d read it when it was dark and stormy outside, for full effect! This does differ enough from Alice in Wonderland to make it a fun and interesting read, but the Hinterland did remind me of many of the creepier, more dangerous aspect of it. The fairytale characters were all deliciously creepy and I really didn’t see the twists and turns in the second half of the book coming.
Basically, is this worth the hype. Yes.
Will I be reading the second one. Yes.