The Hazel Wood
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Welcome to Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood—the fiercely stunning New York Times bestseller with seven 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.
The Hazel Wood
Fabulous book. Hope another is on the way!
This is a curious story.
3 Stars. Not my favorite book I’ve ever read, but still enjoyable.
I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this book. The writing was fine. The characters were okay. The world was probably the most interesting element of the story, but nothing amazing in my opinion. I really enjoyed how the story takes place in modern day New York City and the fairytale elements are hidden beneath. I found the fairytales/whimsical elements of the story to be it’s strongest point. I genuinely enjoyed my time listening to this story on audiobook, but I don’t feel it has many incredible aspects. Additionally, I did lose focus nearing the end of the story. Stories became jumbled and it left me feeling as if the ending has less impact than it intended to.
I find one of the biggest critiques of this novel is that the main character, Alice, is immensely rude, disrespectful, hyper-critical and ill-tempered which is 100% true. That being said, her personality/behavior is integral to the story and does have a purpose, so it didn’t bother me all that much. Given, every time Alice made an effort to point out her “rage issues”, I totally rolled my eyes, but it didn’t make me significantly more frustrated than other unlikeable main characters. I understand the valid criticisms of how Alice treats the only person of color in the story because that was a bit more off-putting than her other traits. There is a scene where Finch, a biracial character, tries to calmly explain why Alice provoking a police officer in his company can be dangerous and Alice completely brushes off his concerns, trivializing the racism he experiences because he comes from money. (It was obvious to me that this scene was intended to be a lesson in privilege and we were meant to side with Finch, but as it is from Alice’s perspective and there is no correction of her behavior on her part, her voice is more dominant so I can completely see the flaws in execution of this scene. It was just messy.) I will also mention that I actually enjoyed the fact that this story followed a main character who grew up in poverty and without a stable home – Situations like this are not common in YA and it was nice to see a character who constantly moved from place to place, have been kicked out by people they stay with, always on the road and have a parent who is always working odd jobs to make ends meet. Alice isn’t the worst main character I’ve ever read about (though she’s pretty close to the bottom), but I don’t feel much affection for her. Finch was by far my favorite character in the story (though there aren’t many others to choose from) and I really wish he had gotten more development instead of being constantly pushed off to the side. He had great potential, but it didn’t really follow through.
I did enjoy The Hazel Wood but it’s not a very memorable book for me. I think the synopsis was so strong and there was so many possibilities for this book to be amazing, but I don’t think it followed the strongest route. It’s just one of those books that I didn’t love or hate either, that I had a good time reading, but have more distinct critiques than positives to share. (less)