The Hazel Wood

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2018

Member Reviews

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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I kept putting off reading this book, though I couldn't put my finger on what was turning me off. Once I started the book, I enjoyed the premise; a reclusive grandmother who is a fantasy author with a cult following but whose books are surprisingly difficult to find is basically a massive "read me" sign that calls out to bibliophiles everywhere. 
I really wish this book had stopped halfway through. I think that the realism portion at the beginning is great, and I could see myself enjoying the more fantastic ending, but I was so tired by the time that the magic really got going that I couldn't get into it. This means that I really rushed through the ending just to be done, which is never a good way to read a book.

I received an egalley of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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This was a good one. Ella and Alice are constantly on the run, trying to escape the fairy tales that are pursuing them. These are not nice fairy tales. It's sort of creepy and dangerous and I thought it was really well done. The tales seem to be unique (or at least I had never heard any of them) which is also pretty impressive. Fairy tale themes tend to get recycled and to encounter new ones was refreshing. I also quite enjoy dark and twisty, so it's getting extra props for that. If you like fairy tales, definitely give this a go.
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I loved The Hazel Wood. It was charming, enthralling, and a wonderful read! I continue to recommend it to new and experienced readers and have received great feedback!
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This dark and intense story gives a fairytale feel, more like Grimm’s than Disney movies. The darkness and mood of the story are it’s dexond bigger appeal, with the world the story takes place in being a big draw.
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The Hazel Wood is a dark urban fantasy following Alice Crewe, a somewhat bitchy and self-centered teenager who has traveled all over the country with her mom, Ella, trying to escape the evils that follow. Some will describe this as a delicious, dark and cold burning fantasy and I have to say I don't agree.

The book wasn't poorly written but it didn't hold my attention throughout. The story seemed like it was being turned in every which direction and it was hard for me to understand where it was exactly going, especially towards the end. It was too much in such a short time span. Too much time leading up to The Hinterland and so little time actually being there.

I appreciated the point of Alice not having a secure home life, constantly moving from place to place, seeing as how most teenagers in YA do have a secure home life. It was a good change for me to read. On topic of Alice, she is one of the hardest characters to relate to that I've ever read. There were so many points in the book where I thought I was about to show her empathy but then Alice decides to ruin it by being rude to someone. I understand there are reasons for this behavior (no spoilers, I promise) but it was still hard for me to like her. 

Overall, I understand this is a unpopular opinion but this book wasn't my favorite. I can see why people do love it so I do recommend it for those who love dark fantasies...just go in with low expectations.
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I enjoyed this book and decided it was perfect for addition to our collection.
The magical element combined with the spookiness should be a big hit with my readers.
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I have a lot of mixed feelings about The Hazel Wood. I think there were elements I was so happy to see and feel, but then there were so many things that I didn’t enjoy and left a sour taste in my mouth.
What I absolutely loved about this book was the elements of magic mixed into the modern day world. That was done on point and in ways that made my heart sing. There is one scene in the beginning where Alice returns to her apartment and it’s so full of magic you can smell it. The level of intensity in this scene reminds me just what suspense is in prose, but sadly this moment is one of the few that has any build to it. 
One thing I will say The Hazel Wood brings to the table is the ability to suspend your disbelief. That is what fairytales and fiction are about after all, and what many are missing. For me, I like it when a world doesn’t explain itself; in fact, I prefer it that way. As a reader I find exposition to get in the way of story because an author feels the need to tell us about the world or make the world believable, and The Hazel Wood just throws you to the wolves and says have fun with it. This was the biggest satisfaction during my read, that the world felt genuine and real, like I could spot a character out in the street and not miss a step. In my notes I say something along the lines of it’s Stranger Things meets Alice in Wonderland, and it’s that level of belief in the world that makes The Hazel Wood hard for me to talk about.
The Hazel Wood is hard to review because of the last half of the book. It reaches a point where I felt like I was reading a completely different book. This is where the trigger warnings should come into play. This is where I got lost and never really came back. I’m all for dark atmosphere and aesthetics, but this got too dark, too absurd, for me to follow. And there is a “story within a story” element going on later in The Hazel Wood, but it wasn’t earned. I guess that’s where I have a problem; the pay off isn’t worth trudging through the slop of darkness and bogged down characters with no development and jumpy plot twists to make it worth my while to read. If The Hazel Wood read more like the first half of the book, I would have bought it. Unfortunately, it meanders down a path I can’t follow into a dark place that I don’t feel like exploring. 
That’s about all I have to say on the subject. It had such high ambitions and was so close to achieving them, but The Hazel Wood fell in on itself before realizing and trying to dig itself out.
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