The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

‘My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on the highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunlight, whipping through in a river of blue.’

the hazel wood.jpgSeventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels.
But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a 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, by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world from her grandmother’s stories.
Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.
To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

What I thought

This story really encapsulates the darkness of fairy tales, its not the Disney-fied version that we all know and love. These are the tales where every step the little mermaid take hurts and makes her feet bleed. Where Sleeping Beauty wakes after the child born of rape is born. The whole tone of this book is taken from the original story and is potentially not one for those who only know the films and the songs (not that the films and the songs are bad, I’m a MASSIVE Disney fan!).  The overpowering darker tone is there from the very beginning and is there in all of Alice’s scenes but not in Finches’ – at least not in the ones where it’s just him, once he joins Alice that tone starts to set in as well. This tone immediately tells you what these stories that Alice has to delve into are going to be like, you can understand why they scared her mother and why she never told Alice and fairy tales. Although they may have been turned into stories for kids, no kid should ever read the original. (Side note: I remember reading the original Little Mermaid when I was about 12 and was really shocked by it)

I love that the way her mother reacted to the Hazel Wood and as soon as she could pushed away from the supernatural and lead a life as ordinarily as possible. Sticking to a life on the road to make sure there was no chance of the Hazel Wood, and the people who live in it, catching up to her.
Of course there is a problem with this, just as she rebelled against her mother by running away Alice’s ‘rebellion’ is running in the opposite direction – back towards the Hazel Wood. Why wouldn’t Alice be interested in the stories her grandmother wrote? The stories that she’s been forbidden to know about? her main characteristics throughout this book are her loyalty to her mother and her curiosity in trying to find out the truth about the Hazel Wood

I found the way that Alice’s grandmother’s book had become a cult classic really well done. Every book reader knows of or loves at least one book that hardly anyone else has read but that the people who have read it all LOVE. It felt real and gave an extra depth to this book. The author was able to sum up why we love those lesser known books. And Finch’s excitement to meet Alice or to get his hands on a copy.  His excitement made me fall a little bit in love with him, he understands me and the TBR mountain.

Why I read it

Dark fairy tale world with a mix of urban fantasy and a coming of age story. Why wouldn’t I want to read this story?
In all seriousness this is a book that I kept picking up and putting back down again wistfully, seeing that Melissa Albert was going to be at YALC just gave me the excuse that I needed to leave the bookshop with it.

Final Thought

As darker fairy tail re-tellings are starting to come back into fashion this book didn’t only come out just ahead of all of the others but I think it’s one of the best I’ve read. This isn’t just about telling the story from the villains POV (as per Maleficent) this is about mixing those darker aspects of the original Grimm tales with the modern world and New York.
It’s a coming of age story with the perfect fairy tale undertones while still being it’s own, and brand new, story.

Did I enjoy it? Yup 😀
Would I read again? Definitely, this is one that deserves a reread as I know there will be lots of bits I missed that I missed originally.
Am I glad I read it? Definitely, I knew this was going to be my kind of thing. But I don’t think I realised just how much it was going to be my kind of thing.
Would I recommend? Always. People should pick this one up and give it a go.

2019 Challenges

PopSugar: Should be turned into a film (although while getting the image for this blog I discovered that it has been picked up by a studio so *fingers crossed), plant in the title or on the cover, about a family, inspired by mythology/legend/folklore.

Read Harder: Mythology/folklore


Hope things are doing okay for everyone reading this. I completed my Queen’s Guide this morning which is why I set up this blog in the first place – to use as my skill. So apart from all the normal stresses things are going well for me! And without that hanging over me I should have more time to write stuff.

Let me know if you’ve read The Hazel Wood and what you thought… or do you plan to read it?

Feedback is rewarded by gluten free cookies!

P.S My next review is for ‘Kill Code’ by Clive Fluery


2 thoughts on “The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

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