The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert

The cover is black, with blue and yellow sketching on it. There is a gate with a tree on it at the bottom, that arches out to the sides and up in a figure 8, with all sorts of images weaved into it. Such as a comb, a bone, a building, a bird cage, a hand holding a dagger, and so on. It's really quite stark and lovely.

“It carried with it a hard beat of fear, but beneath it, something else: surrender. After a life of running, always running. Meditating and counting and clinging to Ella’s hands in an effort to stay afloat on an oceanic anger.”

Ahh! This book is so well-reviewed that I’m afraid I have little to add to the conversation. What started as a bit of a slow read sucked me in with the bad luck and the mystery of fairy tales that go as horribly awry as you expect from a Grimm’s Brothers story.

Why is Ella keeping so many secrets from Alice, and why do they have to keep running? Why is their only luck bad luck, and who is behind it all? Albert has woven a magical fabric that sucks the reader in with a story that is dark and twisted, that has many layers that get darker the more the story unfolds. The writing is lyrical, and I’ve highlighted so many things that will stay with me for a long time.

“…it made me wonder if we weren’t a little bit alike. Behaving the way we had to get by, while hiding a core that was a mystery even to ourselves.”

How have I not read Albert before this book? I’m definitely a fan now, and I cannot wait to check out her other works.

A final quote:

“I turned away from her, knowing her eyes would be the last thing I remembered when all other memories of this place had flattened into photographs.”

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About the Book

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.

Read and like this review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.


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