#1 in The Hazel Wood series
Published by Flatiron Books (30th January 2018)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Seventeen year old Alice and her mother have been on the move for as long as Alice can remember. Always trying to keep a step ahead of the bad luck that seems to follow right behind them. When Alice’s grandmother, who happens to be the author of a dark book of fairy tales that has a cult following, passes away, Alice’s mother thinks that the bad luck is over with; oh, how wrong she was. Alice’s mother is spirited away by a being that is claiming to be from the Hinterland, the fairy tale world from her grandmother’s book, and the only message that her mother left her was “stay away from the Hazel Wood”. Now Alice must team up with one of her class mates, who also happens to be one of her grandmother’s super fans, in order to track down and save her mother, their first stop is The Hazel Wood, followed by a voyage into the fairy tale world of the Hinterland. What Alice will uncover has the ability to change her world forever and there’s no telling how her story will end.
This is such a difficult review for me to write. I read this book straight off the back of a five star horror read that left me trying to pick the next book for around an hour. I picked up at least two other books before this one, intending to start them, then changed my mind and put them back. Maybe I should have waited a day before deciding on what to read next? Alas, I didn’t, and I feel like that severely impacted my ability to enjoy this story for the amazing concept that it is.
A mysterious grandmother who Alice has never met, but has always dreamed about passes away, and Alice and her mother believe their bad luck is finally over, which would allow them to settle down and actually have a place to call home for once. Only things don’t go according to plan and it ends up with Alice’s mother gone, stolen by the fairy tale folk who are not supposed to exist, and Alice having to team up with an obsessed super fan in order to navigate the strange clues and signs that will lead her to her mother. The fact that the fairy tales are all incredibly dark I absolutely loved. Peppered throughout the book are some of these fairy tales. As Ellery Finch, the super fan, is travelling with Alice, she asks him to tell her certain stories, and I thought that was an absolutely brilliant addition to the book because they are stories WITHIN a story, and something about that just made me giddy. And again, the fact that these are dark, just grabbed me.
I must admit, I had kind of worked out the plot twist in about the first third of the book, not confidently, but I picked it early on as a possibility, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when the reveal came around. That’s okay though. I didn’t know the how or the why behind it and this was cool to learn about. The story itself was great, it’s idea was so brilliant and different to a lot of the books I have read, and it was executed fantastically. For some reason though, the whole read, I felt like I was outside the story looking in. At times I found it difficult to wrap my head around stuff that was happening, even though it wasn’t super complex. Again, I blame this on my mental state at the time and not on the book itself. This is a true case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”
The characters were well written, and I really loved Ellery Finch’s character. Alice was a decent character but she felt a little bit flat at times, though I think with how the story panned out, it kinda made sense and fell into place a bit.
There’s honestly not a whole lot I can say about this book, that’s how disconnected from it I felt. I’m thinking that I’ll give it a re-read some time in the future, because I honestly feel like I should have felt more strongly about it than I do.
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