The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert (2018)
Themes: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Fairy Tale
You know you’re going to fall for the premise of a book when you pick it up to read almost immediately after obtaining it. This book is AMAZING, it’s so weird and bizarre, if it was a film then Tim Burton would definitely have to direct it! You meet so many characters in this book from fairy tales very unlike the ones we know. Think more dark Brother’s Grimm than fluffy tales of princesses trapped in castles waiting to be rescued.
Alice is the main character, not from Wonderland (although I do see some similarities), no, this character is unlike the usual YA main character. What I liked about her is that she was angry, she had a real spike to her and I think that’s a trait usually shown in sub characters, so I was pleased to see it in her. She wasn’t perfect and she didn’t try to be, which was refreshing. If you’ve read any of my more recent reviews of YA, you may see I’m starting to get bored of the same tropes being used, but this one did not bore me and did not follow every other YA plot. Alice was a fun character to read about, made interesting because as a young lady, she wasn’t quite sure of herself and where she was going, which made her relatable.
The Hinterland is the fairy tale word in this novel, Alice’s grandmother wrote a book about the stories within it and this is the centre of the plot. The initial main dilemma here is that Alice’s mother Ella goes missing and it is suggested that the people of the Hinterland have taken her. That’s right, the Hinterland, as in the fictional world Alice’s grandmother wrote about. So that got me thinking all sorts of things about where this plot would go and how her grandmother wrote about these stories. I think I’d have liked more explained here, it wasn’t until the very end that I really got the answers I was looking for such as did her grandmother create the stories or were they already there and she just wrote about them? Like I said, this book certainly makes you think!
Closer to the end of the book (and the reason it misses out on a star) it got a bit jumbled. I had already accepted and loved the fact that this book was weird, but suddenly it became all over the place and I found myself rereading pages to keep up. New characters and old were being introduced/reemerging and it got a tiny bit confusing. My excitement for the plot meant that this didn’t bother me too much and is usually something you get with very rich worlds, which this one is.
So if you’re into the bizarre and magical plots, definitely pick this book up, I loved it!