Rating – 4.5 out of 5
In The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, Alice Proserpine led a nomadic life with her mother throughout her childhood. Her mother always moved her around to keep her safe from her grandmother and the fanatic readers of her grandmother’s fairytales. As Alice’s mother goes missing and she looks deeper into their past she finds that her past is more than a story but that she is the story.
“She talked like a woman who knew more books than people.” ― Melissa Albert, The Hazel Wood
Why I liked The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
I heard mixed reviews about this book before reading it and even when I started I had my doubts about where this book was ultimately leading. The Hazel Wood, from the beginning, is macabre and plays into the dark fairy tale tropes of the likes of the Brother’s Grimm. Fans of fairy tale brutality will love this as it follows in the tradition of fairy tales of yore, not disney-fied tales with happy endings and beautiful princesses. I especially enjoyed how there were breaks in the main action to tell a fairy tale in whole which, while natural, broke the story up and gave a deeper view into the world of The Hazel Wood.
As a sequential story, I found it a gripping and simple plot. In the end, there has been many a mystery solved and characters have grown but it is not a complex plot. The Hazel Wood more than makes up for the lack of complexity in world-building. I am not sure that is the correct term in this case, given that there is not a world so much as a world of stories, but it is the best approximation I have. The fairy tales literally take on a life of their own which is memorable as it is haunting. The Hazel Wood took me to places that I did not expect and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
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