Series: The Hazel Wood #1
on January 30, 2018
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Rebecca
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 embraces the darker aspects of fairy tales. Alice Proserpine lives in the shadow of her grandmother’s novel Tales of the Hinterland, an adult take on fairy tales that created a cult following. Alice and her mother have spent their lives constantly moving, trying to stay one step ahead of the bad luck that seems to follow them. When her grandmother dies, Alice and her mother think they’re finally able to settle down.
When strange things start happening, Alice turns to Ellery Finch, a classmate who knows more about Alice’s grandmother than Alice does. Ellery was someone I expected to dislike or tire of quickly. He smart, rich, and has an obvious infatuation Alice. However, Ellery remained down to earth and completely sweet. He isn’t the ‘sad little rich boy’ trope. He acknowledges his own wealth and faults, just as he tries to get Alice to acknowledge her own privilege when her anger gets the better of her.
The book also shies away from romance. I loved that even though both of the characters liked each other, they remained cautious. It’s life or death stakes, there’s not a lot of time for canoodling. The ending of the novel is likely to be controversial; it’s unsatisfying, and answers are purposefully withheld. Alice never learns all the details of what happened and why. However, this was a type of ‘unsatisfying’ that worked perfectly. The whole novel is Alice searching for meaning, for explanations. To deny her this fits with the reality of the situation.
Although I loved the novel, I’m a little disappointed to see that it’ll be a series. The book stands on it’s own so strongly, I can’t imagine where else the plot can go. THE HAZEL WOOD is a gorgeous, fast-paced and creepy novel. Read this is you want more Grimm in your life.Series Titles:
For another take on fairytale-like characters and portal fantasy, check out Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire