The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – Book Review

Title: The Hazel Wood

Series: The Hazel Wood #1

Author: Melissa Albert

Genre/Themes: Fairytales, Young Adult, Fantasy

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 strange bad luck biting at their heels.

But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate named 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 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.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began

My Review

I wanted to love The Hazel Wood so badly.

A book that blurs the lines between fairytale and reality…

I’m so there!! I was ready to love it….

But something went dramatically wrong. I found myself frequently getting bored and confused. The Hazel Wood took me well over a week to read; this is not a routine length for me with this genre of book as I would typically tear through a book of this length!

However, reading this and maintaining my focus felt like an unending struggle. When I eventually finished The Hazel Wood I simply felt relieved to be over with the book rather than satisfied at the conclusion of a good story.

Character development for me was the weakest aspect of The Hazel Wood. I just couldn’t connect to the main character, Alice, at all.

And neither did I find myself caring about her companion Finch nor the events surrounding her mother.

In my opinion, the attempt to shroud this story in mystery and suspense actually ended up killing that connection between reader and author. Too much time was spent on atmosphere with very little page space given to crafting characters that felt as if they were living and breathing real people. There was just no emotional. No heart. At the book’s core was a limp story devoid of feeling. As I was reading I craved a character to care for, but sadly I found none.

The best part of the book were the fairytales from the book within this book, Tales from the Hinterland.

Those fairytales showed tantalising glimpses of what this author is capable of and of what I wish this book would have been more like. If the writer were to actually write a book filled with short fairytales I would happily run out and buy it and know that I would love it.

Spoiler alert, the author seems to have done actually that and there is a companion novel called Tales From the Hinterland that focuses on the fairytales! YAY!

In addition, there’s also a sequel to the main story called The Night Country which I have absolutely ZERO desire to read.

Sadly for me The Hazel Wood was a book with unfulfilled potential that has left me feeling somewhat hollow inside.


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