The Hazel Wood

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2018

Member Reviews

A compelling read that leaves the reader ripping through the pages to find out what happens next! Interesting characters and nice pace to the plot.
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Alice's mother has been stolen. Her grandmother, Althea Prosperpine, reclusive author of the hard to get book of fairy tales, has died alone at The Hazel Wood, an estate that she has left to Alice and her mother. Alice begins the hunt to find her mother, aided by her classmate, Ellery Finch, who is a super fan of Althea's book of fairy tales, Tales from the  Hinterland. As Alice and Ellery begin their search characters from Althea's stories begin to appear on the streets of New York. And these are not your typical fairy tales; they include Twice-Killed Katherine and Alice-Three-Times, terrifying tales that chill you to the bone. Will Alice and Ellery find her mother? And if they do, will they survive the story?

The Hazel Wood feels like two different stories. There is the first half where they are figuring out what happened and looking for the Hinterland and there is the second half where they find the Hinterland and discover what lies there. The two halves don't feel incredibly cohesive. The writing is very lyrical, but the characters and plot lose some of the development. There are excerpts from Tales from the Hinterland that are incredibly creepy and interesting. Recommended fro fans of lyrical writing and Alice and Wonderland.
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I wasn’t able to really get into this, unfortunately.  I tried multiple times and ended up having to put it down each time. It just felt a little slow to me, which was sad because I love fairy tales and dark fantasy worlds, so by all accounts this should’ve been right up my alley. That said, I would probably give the author another try, though.
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All sorts of weirdness going on in this book.  Alice and her mom have bad luck following them.  When he mom is taken, Alice goes on a search for the Hazel Wood where her grandmother lived to try to find her.
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This book... this book right here... I wanted more, but not so much of the second half. Yup, just like that. Okay, well, not just like that, there is so much more I need to say lol. Like why was the first half of this book giving me tons of great spooky, supernatural, goosebumps in the night kinda feels while the second half just left me scratching my head and hoping it was just a cruel joke. Well, okay, I might be putting it a little too harsh, it's just that I really wanted more of...

"It's a birdcage. It's what Twice-Killed Katherine carries. This is it,' he hissed. 'This is the Hinterland!' I started to respond but the girl did something so strange and terrifying it shut both of us up for a long time.""Is he dead?' I whispered. My voice was a skeleton leaf. The man on the ground rose shakily to his feet. He was swimming in his coat and had the air of a person who had forgotten something. His hair was ash white. He staggered over the sidewalk like a zombie."

You see? That's what got me even more, to continue down the rabbit hole with Alice into a place called Hinterland. I mean, wouldn't you be a little curious and enthralled by that kind of fairy tale beginnings? Alice's story is definitely unique and a nice twist on happily ever afters with some Grimm kind of moments incorporated into the pages. Absolutely a book that would more than likely end up on my shelves of loved novels. 

Then, the second half of this book happened. I know, why?? Just kidding, it wasn't bad, just not containing those Iove feels I was having with most of it. A lot of those creepy, skin crawly moments from the beginning seemed to have gotten fluffier as the story progressed. And then, well, we were thrown into Hinterland with a quick movement of pages and short explanations of much of the places I wish they had ended up more at. 

"As Finch spoke, I stared into the woods. His voice was soft and soporific, relaying distant horrors. The light began like a trick. He spoke about the sisters walking through their blood door, and I blinked, blinked again, but I couldn't blink it away: a thin line of white, like the trail of a sparkler pinned between tree trunks. When Finch finished the story, I put a hand to the glass."

This book has fallen into a love/like kind of relationship with me. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, because sometimes you still end up wanting more with books like those, not less. Because of the rushed parts, the not so cared for moments, the shift in vibes with the settings, I can't find myself rating it higher as of now. Doesn't mean I'm not hoping for some kind of continuation by Melissa Albert when it comes to the Hinterlands adventures. Here's to tons of wishing! 

***I received this copy from Flatiron Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***
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I was not thrilled by this book as I expected to be. In fact, I found the first half of the book downright boring. The second half had a bit more action and more of the fairytale elements I was looking for. 

Alice was pretty whiny throughout the whole story, and kind of had a tragic teen vibe the entire time. I didn't find her an appealing character, and the people that she seemed to run into played a little too heavily into the fanatic trope. Her mother was strange and seemed not to have a lot of her own stuff going on, although perhaps that was due to the faulty narration through Alice's eyes. 

The setting, while initially intriguing, was not overall eerie or enchanting in the ways I was expecting. All in all I was disappointed by this story. 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Deliciously creepy! The fairytale elements were great, really hearkened back to classic fairytale themes. The child in me who used to read fairytales and myths exclusively was in heaven.

Would recommend to anyone who likes a strong female character, plot that moves steadily and keeps you on your toes.
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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert has a premise with so much promise!  Alice is the granddaughter of a famous writer of fairy tales, the kind of thing that gets a cult following.  Alice and her mother have always been on the move, running from something unnamed.  Alice has always assumed that it has something to do with her grandmother.  Alice has no idea how right she is.  When Alice’s mother, Ella, is kidnapped, Alice has no choice but to try to find her, even if it means going beyond the ends of the earth.
My really big issue with this book is that I don’t think it is a book for teenagers.  I don’t mean that it is inappropriate in any way.  I just don’t think that it was really written with them in mind.  Early in the book there is a reference to Laurie Moore, the short story writer, that pulled me absolutely out of the story it was so distracting.  Most teenagers are not big fans of literary short stories and would not get this reference at all.  Throughout the book Alice evinces a world-weary tone that seemed more like it should come from someone in their 30s or 40s not a 12-year-old.  It is possible this tone was intended to act as foreshadowing of what we learn about Alice’s character in The Hinterland but it just didn’t ring true to me.
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Although THE HAZEL WOOD promised to be a dark, enchanting fairytale, I found myself less than enthralled with the storyline. The first half was very slow, and I found it hard to remain engaged. It does improve, but wasn't enough to save the story for me, unfortunately.

I may try  and reread it in the future and see if my opinion changes.
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I didn't finish this book, and I did not review it anywhere. I only write reviews for books I like. This one just never piqued my interest. I think there was too much build-up in the beginning, and I just never got interested in the story or characters.
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The Hazel Wood is a compellingly fresh spin on fractured fairy tales. The story is equal parts intriguing, terrifying, and heartbreaking.
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Hands down, this was one of my favorite books I read in 2018. Albert's writing and world-building was completely mesmerizing. If I could read a hundred books similar to this one, I would. The atmosphere, the fairy tales, the inspirations seeping through the cracks, and Alice's pure determination just blew me away. Definitely would recommend to anyone into lyrical prose and magic magic magic.
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I had to take a break from this dark twisty fantasy because my heart was going to explode! But I’m glad I went back! Alice and her mother have always lived a pretty transient life but they have always been together and that’s what matters. When the shadows seem to creep a bit close Alice and her mom pack their bags and hit the road, the only place they always seem to avoid is The Hazel Wood, Alice’s grandmother’s estate. Alice’s grandmother is the elusive cult favorite author of the Hinterland tales, dark fairytales that seem larger than life. When Alice’s grandmother finally dies Alice's mother breathes a sigh of relief they are finally free to settle down somewhere, but are they? Seriously thrilling, I was haunted by it for weeks after I finished.
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This is a dark, alternate fairy tale in which features a teen named Alice. Alice and her mom have lead a nomadic life, neither of them wanting much to do with Alice's eccentric grandmother. But one day, Alice gets pulled into her the world of her grandmother's fantasies.
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I really liked the fairytales inside this book. But as a whole, it didn't keep my interest throughout my read. It started off fairly promising and the voice of the main character is really strong. But there was a lot of meandering plot wise and I found myself putting it down again and again. I do think it's a matter of "it's not the book, it's me", and would still recommend it to someone who would like a interesting modern take on Alice in Wonderland.
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Creepy, tense, slow-moving but intensely atmospheric. These are the kind of fairy tales that I grew up with, not the sanitized Disney versions. More please!
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I have mixed feelings. I am not sure. I am not sure how I feel. Somewhere between 3-3.5 stars is how I think I feel about this.

So, the writing. The writing is actually fantastic. I like YA where the writing isn't oversimplified. I like writing that feels simultaneously eloquent and modern. I like how this book says fuck within otherwise beautiful sentences. However I have a definite pacing issue. And I couldn't put my finger on it because typically my pacing problems come from not enough happening, and that's not the case here. I realized it's that so much happens that's so, completely unnecessary. This could have been so much shorter and better. I found myself occasionally tuning out and I wouldn't go back and re-read because I knew I didn't need to. Most of the events aren't helping the story progress. 

And then there are the characters. Which. I dunno, man. I read so many reviews where people say something along the lines of "The only thing I like about this book is Finch!" (The leading man). And I'm like, possibly Finch was the worst thing about this book for me. People are expecting WAY TOO LITTLE of leading (possible) romantic interests if they like Finch. Because literally what is he even bringing to the table? Other than knowledge of a fantasy world? His character is never even really fleshed out and then he disappears right as the story is picking up and ugh. And then there's Alice, who at least didn't bore me but god she's annoying. By the end I had formed a mild appreciation for her and her struggle. Reluctantly. I formed this attachment reluctantly.

I realize this is all super harsh and it seems like I hated it BUT I really, really loved the tone. I love creepy. Eeriness is my jam. And this totally hits that right on the head. And I really am such a sucker for fairy tales, the more messed up, the better. And I really feel that, had this been shorter, I could have loved it.
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I don't often dnf a book but this one was the exception to the rule. I just couldn't get into the story. I understand the reason for the whole backstory and the buildup of their current lives but waiting to find out why her mom didn't want to go to Hazel Wood or why they continued tjis constant moving around coupled with the main characters personality was just blah. It didn't keep my attention.
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I just could not get in to this book. Gave it 25% and then stopped trying. Sorry :( The premise sounds cool, but it just didn't do it for me.
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There are a good number of negative reviews out there for this, but I liked it. I thought it would be similar to The Book of Lost Things (one of my favorite books), with its protagonist descending into a fairytale world more Grimm than Disney. It definitely had a lot of those same creepy vibes, but this was more Alice in Wonderland than Coraline. Regardless I was very much along for the ride. 

Some of the language was a bit flowery, but as someone who tends to gets really annoyed by that, I actually didn't think it was that bad. It wasn't the best writing I've ever read, but it certainly didn't reach The Star-Touched Queen levels of purple prose. 

Alice was unlikable at first, but not all female heroines need to be likable. And her personality is part of the overall mystery, which had some twists I wasn't expecting. I also enjoyed Finch's character, but wish the rest of the gang had more distinct personality traits. We barely scratch the surface on the other Hinterland characters! 

The best parts by far were the interstitial fairytale stories. I would 100% read a copy of Tales from the Hinterland.
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