Ｔｉｔｌｅ：The Hazel Wood
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ★ ★ ★
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.
✩ Alice was strong but dependent in some ways. She did well on her own but she also seemed kind of lost at times. She was brave and also a little distant as well.
✩ Ella was very dedicated to Alice and caring. I think she put up with a lot of difficult situations in order to do what was best for Alice. She was patient and stubborn which I think was what really made her a great mom for Alice.
✩ Finch was really kind and loyal. He constantly had Alice’s back even when she was being difficult.
❝ My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunroof, whipping by in a river of blue. My mom tells me that’s impossible–our car doesn’t have a sunroof. But I can still close my eyes and see it, so I’m holding on to it.❞
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book!
The Hazel Wood was the perfect creepy read for a nice winter night. I read this book in one day because as soon as I snuggled up under my blanket and picked it up I couldn’t put it down. I found it eerie in the way you would watching an episode of The Twilight Zone or X-Files. It was just utterly perfect and had you guessing at every turn.
The story basically revolved around Alice, her grandmother, and her grandmother’s book. Which is ironic because Alice’s grandmother, Althea, and her book (Tales from the Hinterland) aren’t really physically around for most of the book. Alice has never met her grandmother or really had a chance to read the book. You can hardly find any information about either online and copies are Hinterland are so rare that they’re almost non-existent. There’s just so much mystery surrounding them off the bat that you start off with so many questions and get pulled in right away because you’re just waiting for those little hints so you can start putting together some answers.
Something I really enjoyed about the Hinterland was that we actually got the chance to read a couple of the stories within the book! One of the characters/fans of Althea, Finch, retells two of the stories from back when he owned a copy of Tales from the Hinterland. I really enjoyed both and it left me wishing I could read the rest of the creepy tales! (Which–judging from what I saw on goodreads–we might actually get to~!). I think it added a nice touch to the story and it allowed Albert to show off her writing skills a little more.
❝ On a cold day in a distant kingdom, a daughter was born to a queen and king. Her eyes were shiny and black all over, and the midwife laid her in the queen’s arms and fled. The queen looked into the girl’s eyes, shiny-dark as beetle shells, and despised her on sight.❞
I liked the plot of the story and the direction it took. I liked that we got to explore the other settings (won’t spoil) and what happened with The Hazel Wood. It was an interesting concept and I liked the mystery behind it all.
To get into the characters a little bit, I thought Alice was pretty interesting. She and her mother had a unique relationship that was not at all traditional. She remembers once when she was little how she was hit by a car while on her bike and how her mother rode her bike and chased the guy down. Alice mentions how her motherknew her well enough to know she prefered revenge over comfort. I think that tells you a lot on its own. She was kind of impulsive and reserved. She’d lived her whole life moving from place to place so she had trouble forming connections to people. She was also really dependent on her mother in the sense that Ella was the one constant in her life.
Finch was really passionate about the Hinterland. He was a fan, after all, but I think it was kind of sad and cute how he connected to the stories so much. I thought he was a very kind and loyal friend (especially to Alice early on). I liked him for that and for how brave he was to continue the journey to help Alice.
Overall, I think the plot was really solid. I enjoyed the writing style and the creepy feel of the story. I think this is perfect if you like dark fairy tale/retelling type stories or horror because it does have some of those elements to it.
The Hazel Wood will be released next week on January 30th so keep an eye out for it! ❤