Book Review: The Hazel Wood
I am obsessed…enthralled, enchanted, possibly even bewitched by this book. The Hazel Wood was an utterly all consuming, wild ride that melded the contemporary and the fantastic, the beautiful and the creepy, even horrific, to deliver a tale about what it means to write your own story.
Honestly and truly I think anyone who considers themselves part of the booklr community will find this a super rewarding read.
Alice has never had roots, always moving, always running from the bad luck that dogs her and her mother at ever turn. She’s the granddaughter of Althea Proserpine, the infamous author of The Hinterland. Though Alice has never read the stories, she feels an odd connection with the twisted fables she knows it contains. This affinity fast turns to fear when Alice returns home one day to find her mother missing and her grandmother’s stories coming to life in the most terrifying way. With the help of a hardcore Hinterland fan named sellers Finch, she must escape the Stories and find her mother, but every move they make reveals more lies, mysteries, and deeper ties to the Hinterland than Alice ever suspected.
I LOVED this book. There is something so relatable magical and creepy about this two person family living on the road, this girl who remembers highways and streetlights and books better than her actual life.
In fact, Alice was one of the most relatable characters I’ve encountered. I felt a strong personal connection with her relationship with her mother, her nomad existence, and her love of books. Sometimes having a book lover as the main character can feel self-indulgent, but in this case, Alice and Ellery served as vehicles to the discussion of books, reading, writing, and storytelling that is a critical part of the theme of this story.
This isn’t so much a fairytale as an love letter to stories, to those who read them and to those who write them–to the good and the bad of what it means to escape into fictional worlds.
Ellery and Alice were the kind of fanciful yet practical characters that make for great protagonists in a story where the real melts into the magical. Their friendship-with-potential was a subtle yet central part of the plot and I was genuinely surprised with how it progressed at every turn. Ellery’s fate was at once shocking and satisfying, but I felt Alice was unfinished and I could see a follow up about either or both of them.
The plot itself was genuinely surprising with subtle foreshadowing and elements that made it feel like a familiar fairy tale and at the same time something wholly new and unique. Readers of fairy tales and fae stories will find this a particularly rewarding read, though it’s more than accessible to those with no fairy tale knowledge.
Apart from the fantasy elements, this book also contains a very real perspective on class, on coming of age, on mother-daughter friendships, on being a teenager seeking your path in life. The message is especially relevant to book lovers who have spent their lives yearning for the kind of adventure they read about.
Albert has created an alternate multiverse where anything is possible if you’re willing to pay the price, where magic can cross realms and stories can become reality, and I truly hope we see more of it in the future.
The Iron Fey series (Kagawa), Enchanted (Kontis), Wintersong (Jae-Jones), Once Upon a Time (tv show), Grimm (tv show), The Raven Cycle (Stiefvater)
Disclaimer: I received this ebook as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback.