Review of ‘The Hazel Wood’ (The Hazel Wood #1)

By Cynthia Bujnicki

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Flatiron Books
Image Credit: Goodreads

Alice and her mother have been on the run for years, away from the bad luck that has chased after them always. Until it stopped. However, when her mother goes missing, leaving her with just one message, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her mother. However, the key to finding her is teaming up with someone obsessed with her grandmothers’ fairy tales. The key is in the details and Alice will tear the world and fairy tales apart to find her mother.

Published by Flatiron Books, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is the first in a dark and creepy-cool series.

A fantastic fairy tale. Dark fairy tales, the ones that are richly described and full of malevolent and hauntingly beautiful richness, are always the best, and Albert achieves that to perfection.

There is something sinister lingering on the fringes of the story that makes it so eerie but captivating as well. There is a mystery lingering, this wonder of the fairy tales coming to life, this darkening sensation that puts the reader on edge alongside Alice. It makes the story unique and compelling, this unique spin on the fairy tale genre, and captures something of the Grimm Fairy Tales within it.

There is also this semblance of magical realism that makes the story progress at a steady pace. It makes the story and the journey more engaging as it moves ahead to combine reality and fairy tales. The texture of the writing, the style of word choice and structure of the story, watching it unravel through this lense of magical realism is brilliant, and Albert has done it in such a fantastic way to keep the pacing steady, to keep the eerie sensation lingering throughout the narrative.

Alice also makes an intriguing protagonist. Alice’s young life revolved around her and her mother running away from the bad luck that has hunted them since she can remember. However, now it seems as though the Hinterlands are coming alive, hunting her while she looks for her mother. Alice grows so much on this journey, learning so much about herself and those around her. Not only that, but she is learning how to treat people better as well. With a slightly frigid personality, she begins to thaw as the story goes on, highlighting just how much the journey and the fairy tales are affecting her.

Admittedly she is not a very memorable character. The initial hostility that defines her does not make her likable or relatable. However, the progress of the story gives the reader understanding, especially after some of the more intense revelations. So while she may not be memorable or highly likable, her development does highlight the skill of the author’s part to create a story that is so engaging that the characters do not matter as much as the fantasy and journey.

There is something beautiful in reading and experiencing a well-told modern fairy tale. It is creepy and phenomenal and develops in such an engaging way to make it unique and compelling. (★★★★☆)

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Pub Date: Mar. 6, 2020

Page count: 400pp

Age Range: 18 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-2501-4793-6

Publisher: Flatiron

List Price: $10.99


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