Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Author: Melissa Albert
Series: The Hazel Wood #1
Audience: +16
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: January 30th 2018
My Rating: 5 Cups
Source: Own Copy
Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.
I read this book as a part of the Cursed Books Book Club a.k.a Marta’s awesome reading idea. I've been intrigued about the story ever since I first heard about it last year, but I've always held off on reading it, because my expectations were super high. I'm very happy that this book didn't disappoint me.

The Hazel Wood is the story of Alice and her quest to finding her mother. Alice is a young girl that, along with her mother, is trying to escape her grandmother's fame. There also seems to be a curse following them, because they can't really settle in any one place before strange, dangerous things start happening. Although there aren't a lot of people following Alice and her mother, the few people who do seem to be very strange and dangerous.

I'll be honest and say I wasn't at first really enchanted by the story. I didn't like Alice all that much in the beginning, and I couldn't really explain why. It wasn't until I got to the second half of the book that I started seeing her with different eyes. I liked the fact that she goes in search of her mother, even though she has no idea where to even begin searching for her, but it isn't until the moment she gets to the Hazel Wood and starts to uncover the secrets of her grandmother's stories that I finally understood Alice, and also liked her. It's strange how that part of the book made me understand the entire character better.

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Out of all the things that could happen once she got to the Hazel Wood, that wasn't it. There's a mystery and a complexity that are added to the story and the characters that made me change my reading experience. 
In the middle of all the danger and the hunt for Alice's mom is Ellery Finch. I can't really say I see him as the perfect guy for Alice. I actually loved the fact that there's little romance between them, or at least I didn't perceive it as any kind of potential budding love. Finch is a strange character. He kind of reminded me of Adrian Ivashkov in a lot of ways, which I found interesting. I also like how his story progresses, and the way things are left with him at the end of this book is super, super intriguing and I hope he'll be the focus of the sequel. I will admit, that at some point during their journey towards the Hazel Wood I started having some doubts about him, and it was interesting how the author wrote his story. 
I liked the twist on fairy tales that this book has. The few tales that are revealed are really dark and twisted, and there seems to be no real teaching of any kind to be learned after reading them. But I do however think it's all about the human nature and the other side of the story. I really enjoyed these stories and let me tell you, if Melissa Albert decided to write a Hinterland fairy tales book, I'd read it faster than I can blink. 
The ending of the book is also perfect. It ends kind of quietly, despite the tumultuous story. It's kind of like the quiet after the storm, and I loved that a lot. The pacing is pretty great, although the story does shift from past evens to present time a lot during the novel. 
I don't know if this is a thing only for the original edition, but at the beginning of each chapter there's a drawing of an object. Usually these objects have some hidden meaning and connection to the chapter itself, so I had a lot of fun trying to figure out what it means.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I'm very excited about the sequel


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