Review Blog

Mar 28 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

cover image

Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780141388663
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Themes: European Fairytales, Supernatural, Fantasy, Young Adult. The Hazel Wood is a terrifying look at Fairy tales that turns the happy ever after notion that is often presented to readers on its head. With this book you are encouraged to fear the fairy tale world and in the immortal words of Frank L. Baum "you are not in Kansas anymore".
We follow 17-year-old Alice and her Mother through what appears to be a relatively normal existence (well for them anyway) where they are always on the move - it leaves the reader intrigued as to what they are running from. Alice is the main protagonist and you feel for her a few pages in. There is also a mysterious Grandmother who has been writing a series of books regarding Hazel Wood which have reached cult status.
It is beautifully written but haunting to the core. It left me both wanting to put it away in the dark place it came from to wanting to keep reading it - not a book I recommend reading on a dark windy night that is for sure. It is truly mesmerising and so dark that it won't be for everyone. Melissa Albert has perfectly written a story for teenagers that will truly speak their language.
Alice's mother is stolen by a character from Hazel Wood and even though she is warned not to come to Hazel Wood if Alice wants to see her Mother again she must. I must admit that pace to start with is slow and you are left wanting more to happen. But as you progress in the story and encounter the characters that are not always to my liking that the true genius of the writing comes to the fore. Melissa Albert's world is twisted, and frightening and very, very unnerving. It reminds me of Stephen King and Dean Koontz where what makes their stories truly terrifying is the element of truth that is present. I am a great lover of horror stories but this one left its indelible mark on me and it one for older readers.
If you like books from Holly Black (Doll Bones) or Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver series) then this is the book for you. The conclusion was great and it could have finished the story there but I am glad to say that there are more planned. I am hoping that they are as dark and disturbing as this one. It certainly stays with you for quite some time after the book is finished and put down.
Elaine Grottick

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