‘The Hazel Wood’ by Melissa Albert is perfection.
Synopsis: Alice has been on the run with her mother, Ella, from bad luck her whole life until her mother receives a letter telling her that her once famous, reclusive grandmother has died. This same grandmother who wrote a collection of stories that has amassed a cult following. Convinced the bad luck is now behind them, they set their life up in New York. One day, Ella is kidnapped and suddenly Alice is being followed by characters from those famous stories. Can she find her mother in her grandmother’s estate, the Hazel Wood?
All the characters in this book were interesting to me. But the most interesting character of all had to be Althea. I could so do with a prequel of her visit to the Hinterland. I think it would be such a delight to see the stories from her perspective. Even a little novella of Ella’s tragic love with the brother could be epic. There is so much room for play here, and so many aspects that could be fleshed out and given life.
Alice is a complicated character and that’s all down to her being a story. I don’t envy her at all. I love that even at the end of the book, we still don’t know how her story should have ended. It adds an air of mystery not only to her but the book as a whole. Although in a way, the name of her story ‘Alice Three Times’ does kinda tell you. If you think about it; the first Alice could refer to her actual story in the Hinterland. The second Alice could refer to the one she becomes whilst growing up on Earth. And the third Alice is ex-story. Perhaps this was the way is was supposed to be all along? I found her ‘new’ ending and the way she felt about it all kinda sad. I hope the sequel helps her find her way as I love her a little. Even though the ice wasn’t exactly a good thing, I can imagine how easy it would be to miss too.
The world building in this book is sublime. There was so much detail that I reckon I could read this five more times and still pick up on something new. There was enough detail that it felt, to me anyway, that it all blurred together and the only focal point was Alice. This was especially true whilst she was in the Halfway Wood and Hinterland. The writing in these parts (if not the book as a whole) reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. It had an almost dream-like quality to it all. It is mesmerising. Even my two year old couldn’t keep her hands off this book, as if she knew how amazing it was.
The last chapter, about the group, is lovely. It’s like the whole book (and individual stories) was a drug and now that its ended, the characters are left empty. What I love about this though, is that it’s the same for the reader. I do feel a little lost after this book and having the same feelings as the characters allows me to feel connected to them. If I re-read it, I’m sure I’d feel even more immersed because of this.
I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but I loved this book. I never read the descriptions of the books included in subscription boxes as I trust the companies providing them so I didn’t know what to expect when it arrived. Both covers are beautiful although I prefer the hardback version and those pretty illustrations that foreshadow events. The feel of the book isn’t something I have ever come across before. It’s a wonderful book and I eagerly anticipate the stories that follow this one.
“Look until the leaves turn red, sew the worlds up with thread. If your journey’s left undone, fear the rising of the sun.”
You can get it here
I received this in FairyLoot’s February ‘Twisted Tales’ box and Owlcrate’s February ‘Hidden Worlds’ box.