I received The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I give it 5/5 stars.
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. (Goodreads)
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert was all I wanted and more. It was atmospheric, slightly off, fun, unique, haunting, scary, beautiful, and unsettling. It was filled with words I wish I wrote.
Things I liked:
The words. There are chunks of beautiful prose. Wow. I was blown away.
The cover. The first time I saw the cover, I was like, "Okay, that's nice," but now that I've read the book I like it even more.
The worlds. There is so much going on in terms of world-building. Alice lives in our world, but because of her family, it feels like an entirely different world. There are layers to the fantasy worlds, too, that are hard to explain without spoilers, but wow, again, I was blown away.
The characters. I really rooted for Alice to find her mother. Ella was all she had in life and it was heartbreaking to struggle with Alice as she tried to find her mother. Alice was well done and complex and interesting, and easy to sympathize with.
The backstory. Alice and Ella's story is woven into the story so wonderfully that pages and pages of backstory didn't feel disjointed from the narrative. It felt alive and active.
Things I didn't like:
There is an unfortunate lack of diversity in this book. Finch, one of the main characters, is Black, but that's about it. And he isn't in about half of the book.
I predicted a plot point pretty early on (though, it didn't kill the story for me). I would have liked to be more surprised.
I'm hesitant to call it "self-harm" because the character isn't/isn't wanting to do it to herself. This is just a small scene, and therefore a small warning, that around the 45-50% mark (I'm sorry I didn't take notice to the percentage or page) there is a potential triggering moment.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert will be published January 30 2018.