Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a 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 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. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .
I have always wondered at how books can be scary? How can reading words on a page in the comfort of your own home give you a sense of horror or dread? How is it that books can have such power that, that the horrors they describe can effect us in such a way as to make us fearful when there is nothing to fear? I didn’t understand these feelings until I read The Hazel Wood.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert was a dark and intriguing story that has all the magic and mystery of the fairy tales we know so well. This book however goes one step further, it describes a world in which fairy tales could be real, a world where there is truth to the stories that we heard growing up. I think the elements of realism is what made this book so damn creepy, the elements of truth within the story and the possibility that somewhere the stories are real, that someone did live this life.
“I told you, she was like a war reporter. She didn’t write this stuff into creation-she wrote about something that was already out there.”
This quote I think is a good description of how this story is told from the point of view of Alice Crewe. Alice grew up on the road with her mother and bad luck following her wherever they went. She has a cold anger that sometimes gives her a more dispassionate point of view to the events that unfold in the book, but somehow still full of feeling and emotion. This anger is her armour and I found Alice to be a realistic and flawed character who would do anything for the people she cared about.
The characters in this book are believable, the stories woven into the story are fascinating and the whole mystery of The Hazel wood had me intrigued from the first page. The depth this author managed to achieve was so good that the fairy tales in this book could themselves be published. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the original fairy tales, the ones where every step The Little Mermaid takes is like knives in her feet and the evil stepsister cuts off her toes to fit into the glass slipper.
*I received a digital review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own*
Rating: 4/5 Stars