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.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 3.68 out of 5
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.
I don’t know.
I just… I don’t know.
You ever have it happen in life that you’ve done something that’s wrong in the eyes of someone else i.e. your mother and they sit you down and utter that line to you…
“I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.”
That’s how I feel about ‘The Hazel Wood’ – not angry just disappointed. I don’t even think I have the energy to rally up a review of the thing but that could also be because it’s late and I’m tired and newly sun-burnt. Considering as I’m usually pale as f*ck I now look like one of these…
No joke. My arms look like this. I’m wearing a sleeveless wedding dress in two months. My tan lines never fade. If you want to see a hyperventilating book blogger let me know because I’ll film myself and put it on here. It would be funny if I didn’t currently resemble a chewy sweet. It’s ok though, I’ve resigned myself to going to a tanning booth and…
Look, I’m digressing massively. I’m not remotely getting to the point of this which is a review of a book and isn’t it frustrating when something never actually gets to the point of something? I mean for all I know you want to read about my wedding woes and my newly ridiculous burn lines but I suppose you signed up to read about books.
Oh sorry, I’m still not getting to the point am I? I have a tendency to do that. Just go on and on and on and on about something that you don’t really want to hear about. ‘Get to the review,’ I’m sure you’re saying but this build up is good right? You don’t actually want to read my thoughts on a book do you? It’s not actually like I titled this post ‘Book Review: The Hazel Wood’ or anything, is it? It’s not like you actually want to read about ‘The Hazel Wood’ right?
If I followed the actual outline of the book it would be 12 paragraphs of nothing but my tanning stories followed by 1 paragraph of the review.
‘The Hazel Wood’ took forever to get to well, the Hazel Wood. We followed our MC Alice and her friend Ellery (I loosely use ‘friend’) as they set about trying to find and then enter the eponymous Hazel Wood which happens to be Alice’s grandmother’s mystery estate. This felt more like a treasure hunt on acid as they were followed around by all sorts of mysterious baddies and searched for clues to take them to the next clue and so on. This all happens in the mystical and deeply fantastical setting of modern day New York *engage sarcasm mode*.
I don’t mind this type of story but then it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I expected the promised land, the creepy creepy promised land and it didn’t seem like the story was going to get us there until the very last quarter when it did. This should of been interesting, this ‘other’ world where dark fairy tales live and breath and where the characters are real and are forced to perform their roles until they die and are re-birthed and so on.
It was boring.
They finally get to the place we’ve wanting them to get to and it’s actually the dullest part of the entire book. How?! Why?! What happened Melissa? Did you get bored? Did you run out of steam? I need you to answer my many irritating questions!
Let’s just politely say that I felt the pacing was off.
How were our characters? Well everyone else is a bit part player including Alice’s mother. We never know much about her but what we do know is this – Alice and her do love each other very much. I liked that very much.
I didn’t like Alice. Later this week I hope to write up my review of ‘Cruel Prince’ where every character is an unlikeable asshole. But somehow you still like them. Weird, huh? In ‘The Hazel Wood’ Alice is also an unlikeable asshole but I really found I didn’t like her. Maybe it’s because there’s some ingrained part of me that doesn’t like it when people are nasty for the sake of being nasty – she is very mean to her mother and Ellery and she refers to other girls as ‘bitches’ for absolutely no discernible reason. I believe this was to make her seem ‘edgy’ and ‘not like other girls’ which made me seem ‘like I was about to smack my face against my desk’ or ‘vomit in my own socks.’
I liked Ellery though, he didn’t get enough love.
This isn’t a one star review for these reasons:-
The writing has some moments of excellence (but sadly not all the way through) but when it was there, it was there. This really came through in the most original and interesting bits which were the inserted fairy stories.
The concept of ‘The Hazel Wood’ is that Alice’s grandmother wrote a collection of dark fairy tales that people have raved over because there is something deliciously creepy and compelling about them. During the story we get flashes of what these are with one or two told to us. These sections – wonderful. Honestly I enjoyed those very much. In a strange way the author would have been better off just doing a collection of dark fairy tales rather than writing a book about someone writing dark fairy tales.
But she didn’t and we got ‘The Hazel Wood’ and I didn’t put sun-cream on and I got sun-burnt so there we go.
Oh, and apparently now there’s going to be a sequel.
I’m just going to end on this mature note….