Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Publisher: Penguin (January 2018)
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.
The Hazel Wood is one of those super-hyped books that pretty much everyone is talking about since its release in January.
I have mixed feelings about it, though. It's like those candied nuts you find at flea markets. They smell really good and you want some, but as soon as you bite into it past the sugar, it kinda loses all appeal.
Melissa Albert is a competent writer. Her prose and pacing are brilliant, as is the build up of suspense. The first half of the book was amazing and I was so, so sure that this would be my new favorite read of 2018.
Of course, like the nuts, I was in for disappointment. Suddenly the book seemed to fall apart and the charm and intrigue simply vanished along with any desire I had to find out what was going to happen next. The worst part about this experience is that I cannot tell you what caused this, exactly.
I think, towards the end, the book tried to be too clever. And what happened didn't meet my expectations leading up to that point. I wanted so much more than what was on the page.
If you do want to read something a bit offbeat and different, do give this a try. But also do not let thr hype fool you into believing this is going to blow you away, either.