The Hazel Wood Blog Tour! Review and Q&A with Melissa Albert

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Title: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1)
Author: Melissa Albert
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 368
Source: ARC provided by Raincoast Books
Add to Goodreads | | Indigo

Overall: 4 STARS

Welcome to Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood—the fiercely stunning contemporary fantasy with five starred reviews everyone is raving about:

“Thoroughly, creepily captivating.” —Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling and Jane, Unlimited
“Will be your next obsession.” —Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval
“Destined to be a classic.” —Kami Garcia, author of The Lovely Reckless
“Breathtaking.” —Seanan McGuire, author of Every Heart a Doorway
“Mesmerizing.” —Karen McManus, author of One of Us Is Lying
“One of the best books I’ve read in years.” —Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places

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. 

If you love fairy tales, then you will absolutely love Melissa Albert's debut YA novel The Hazel Wood. It's uncanny and magical, grim like a classic fairy tale, and completely leaves you spellbound as you're reading. I always seem to remember the happily ever after part of a fairy tale, forgetting just how cruel and dark they can truly be. The Hazel Wood was a reminder that fairy tales can be so bloody, strange, and outright creepy, giving you shudders down your spine.

Seventeen-year-old Alice has spent much of her life shuffling between new schools and homes, and driving on endless stretches of highway with her mother, constantly trying to outrun the bad luck that always seems to follow right behind them. There weren't many rules for Alice during her unconventional childhood, but she's always been forbidden to speak about her grandmother, Althea Proserpine, the reclusive author of a collection of fairy tales called Tales from the Hinterland.

While Alice has never met her grandmother, it hasn't stopped her from secretly trying to learn everything about her... but the details are very sparse. Tales from the Hinterland may have a devoted cult following, but the book itself is an elusive find. And even the location of the Hazel Wood, her grandmother's grand estate, is an alluring mystery. Alice has always imagined what her life would've been like living in the Hazel Wood, and wondered why her mother refuses to speak of the past.

But maybe it was for a very good reason... Alice's mother is suddenly stolen away, kidnapped by figures claiming to be from the Hinterland, the cruel world where all her grandmother's stories are set. It sounds crazy and impossible, but Alice would do anything to get her mother back, including reluctantly enlisting the help of her classmate Ellery Finch, an avid fan of Tales from the Hinterland

Alice is used to being a loner, independent and distant to everyone except her mother, but even their relationship has its ups and downs. When you think moody and angry teen, Alice fits right in. I know she's frantically trying to find her mom and the Hinterland creeping into the edges of our world is scary, so sometimes she's mean and bitchy and lashes out at Finch, but really, that's just part of her personality. Alice is not always a very likeable heroine, but that was fine with me. She doesn't need to be perfect and always kind. I just felt bad Finch was stuck in a car with her for hours.

The Hazel Wood was a perfect blend of dreamy storytelling, classic fairy tale and contemporary setting. It was enchanting and grim, with magic and eeriness and tension pervading my heart as I read along. I didn't know what to expect, what surprises and twists awaited ahead to stumble upon. I wasn't even sure how much I could trust Alice's narration. This book was just so, so good. I completely understand why so many people have already fallen in love with The Hazel Wood. And the ending left me feeling a little empty and lost, like a part of the Hinterland had stolen a part of my soul too. I'm just glad to know there will be a sequel.

Q&A With Melissa Albert
What fairy tales would you recommend to fans of The Hazel Wood searching for similar creepy and dark tales, that leave you gasping and looking over your shoulder, which fall more on the lesser known side than a Disney version?

Definitely check out Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, a brilliant feminist retelling of Snow White that is not just gorgeous and fascinating, but also a master class in showing empathy to even your cruelest characters. You cannot miss Catherynne Valente’s incredible Deathless, which starts out like a classic fairy tale—birds that turn into men, beautiful brides, strange occurrences that happen in threes—unfolds into a lush and intoxicating riff on the Russian tale of Koschei the Deathless, then jumps into a very real, very impoverished wartime Russia, nesting the real and the magical side by side in a way I find completely irresistible. You must also check out Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, more wonderful Russian-inspired fantasy, and the eerie, dreamlike short fiction of Kelly Link, which combines fairy-tale elements with horror with breathtaking modern weirdness. I want to take a guided tour of her writer brain. 


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  1. I felt the same way about trusting Alice as a narrator. Thanks for joining the blog tour!