Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (The Hazel Wood #1)


The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert // VBC ReviewThe Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1)
Melissa Albert
Published: Jan. 30, 2018 (Flatiron Books)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Alice Proserpine has lived her entire 17 years on the run with her mother. Never really knowing why, but knowing that, sooner or later, bad luck always found them and they would have to disappear again. Until one day, her mother gets a letter—a letter that says Alice’s grandmother is dead. For reasons Alice doesn’t understand, this means that they can stay in one place and try to make a life for themselves. Which they do…until the bad luck makes its appearance again, and this time, takes Alice’s mother away. Trying to rescue her mother will lead Alice on a journey that will upend everything she thought she knew about her mother, their bad luck, and herself. It will also redefine fairy tales in a completely unexpected way.

The story is set in contemporary times in New York. However, while New York City is where much of the beginning of the novel takes place, the remainder is set in Hazel Wood. Set around her grandmother’s estate, it is so much more than that, and a place that—unbeknownst to her—holds a significant piece of her past. Both settings are written well, though I found that I was drawn to Hazel Wood more. I think the fact that a more creative liberty could be taken with this place made it more interesting, and it is certainly unusual.

The characters in the story vary from your standard coffeehouse worker to the fae. However, these are not the Tinkerbell sort of fae, but something much darker—and even deadly. All the characters have a depth to them that added to the story, even those who may not be quite what they appear, or who are dark to their very core.

The story itself was both interesting and engrossing. It spun the fairy tale trope and set it on its head, and while it is indeed a VERY dark story, it made for an entertaining read. Without any spoilers, the ending was a surprise, and yet not as well. It’s a reminder of the days of old, when fairy tales were not told to entertain, but to warn and to keep people in line. Rare was it that fairy tales back then had happy endings, and more rare was it that people in them remained unscathed. So it is here.

The Hazel Wood is a book about choices, redemption, and the power of stories to heal—or to harm. It is also about the power of love. As a novel, it is powerful. As a debut novel, it is wondrous. Here’s to many more such wonders from Melissa Albert.

Sexual content: none

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