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I highly enjoyed the creepy, original plot line with all its dark twists and turns.
Real rating: 4.25 stars
Since it came out sometime this year, I’ve heard LOTS of people raving about it, especially from the likes of EpicReads. I almost bought it at Barnes and Noble (should’ve done it, now that I know how good it is), but brushed it off because a) I wasn’t really hooked in that moment, and b) the hardcover was unreasonably expensive for a book. Now I simultaneously regret and delight in the fact that I got it at the library. Delight, because man, this book was a treasure; regret because now I’ll have to return it in a week’s time.
I didn’t have super high expectations, but MAN, “The Hazel Wood” blew it out of the water! Near-perfectly executed magical realism...was that magical realism? I mean, it’s been shelved as fiction and fantasy, but I’d say it was a pretty perfect blend of both. The fantasy element, towards the end of the book, was a little more prevalent, but...I guess that would be magical realism? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Either way, the author made it work almost flawlessly.
Honestly, I was hooked from start to finish. The writing was spectacular, and the world building was so enchanting, that I felt like I never wanted to leave. (That is, until I got to the Hinterlands...hehehe...) I found myself growing attached to Alice, and I loved exploring her backstory. The other characters, whether I liked them or not, were incredibly well thought up, and the chemistry between them was perfectly executed. I loved the lore that came along with “Tales from the Hinterland”, and all of the dark, creepy fairy excerpts we got throughout the course of the book. I’d like to see more of those, and apparently, “Tales from the Hinterland” is going to be published as a separate book in a few years’ time...
And finally, I REALLY enjoyed all of the little pop culture references that were thrown in there, especially the music related ones. I’ll admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the description of Lana from the coffee shop, and the subsequent interaction between her in the customer who mistook T. Rex for the Stone Roses. I cracked up at the latter.
All in all, “The Hazel Wood” is most definitely worth a read, whether you like fantasy, fiction, or both.
I don't know how else to describe this book other than "atmospheric and weird". It's dark and strange and aggressively not romantic in a way that is very refreshing for a YA book, and I finished it feeling, honestly, kind of sad that there's going to be a sequel, because this book is so odd and vividly realized that I almost wanted it to just exist by itself out in the world without any follow-up or resolution. I realize the words I'm using to describe this don't necessarily sound that complimentary, so please just trust me when I say that I mean "weird" in the best possible way.
Alice has been on the run with her mother ever since she can remember; always running from the nameless bad luck that always seemed to follow them. After her mother Ella received a letter stating Ella’s mother Althea died, they finally settled down and the bad luck seemed a memory of the past. All that changed when Alice came home and found out her mother has been kidnapped by the Hinterland, a strange fairytale land where most stories end in death. Now, with the help of her classmate Ellery, she is not running away from a nameless something. She is running towards the Hazel Wood, the house where Althea Prosperine first wrote her novel, Tales from the Hinterland. Will she be able to rescue her mother or is there death in their future? A strange story full of adventure and mystery, it is a story to be enjoyed by teen and adult alike. Warning: does contain (needless) character death.
I was on board with the creepy and weird until her Black friend gets killed - seriously?? There's a trope that needs to vanish. It was overhyped for me, and didn't quite do it.
Fully creepy. My childhood is ruined.
Alice Proserpine is used to living her life on the run. Living with her wild mother, leaving town at the slightest disturbance or hint of "bad luck" has become all too familiar. But when her mother is kidnapped by dark agents of The Hinterland, a fairy-tail world created by her grandmother, the search leads her to the one place she has always been told to keep away from; The Hazel Wood. Dark tales meet the real world, where doors can open anywhere, where stories can kill, and where you can get a free drink for any song, post 1972, that you can sing from start to finish.
So, I think this book is 4 or 5 stars until you hit the last third of it. Then I felt the writing got really weird. There were some descriptions of things that were cringe worthy. It basically just really fell apart for me, which was disappointing because I really liked the first two thirds of the book.
Very intriguing premise, although I did feel that Melissa Albert got a bit overly descriptive at times and that caused me as a reader to zone out of the story. However, when this book was great, it was GREAT and I couldn't put it down during parts.
I didn't pick up on the "Alice in Wonderland" with a twist- to me it felt more like a brand new fairy tale. Melissa Albert does realistic fantasy very well.
Overall, an interesting and engaging story.
I read this for the "A Book Published in 2018" part of my 2018 reading challenge. I found this book so fascinating that I read it in one day. The story line was really original, and while the ending wasn't exactly happy, it did end better than I thought it was going to.
What if you were told, that your life is actually entwined with that of fairy tales? Having faced too much bad luck for it to be "bad luck," Alice (protagonist) comes to shocking realizations one day after school. On a mission one can only call "spun by fate," she is determined to change her destiny. This book was very captivating overall, and I liked how it didn't try to appeal to a huge audience. It had its quirks and darkness, and unless readers enjoy it fully, it is not worth continuing. Fair warning, it does not shy away from blood/gore. -@Siri of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board
It's an interesting premise and a decent read... but I wasn't especially compelled or moved by any of it.
This is a very captivating read. One immediately connects to the plot and is eager to see what comes next. Perhaps it is my love of folklore and fairy tales, but this wondrous world of the tales told is exciting. I love the spin on fairy tales creating more of a grimm twist.
Thoroughly enjoyed this one but now I'm sad because I want to read Tales from the Hinterland and I can't! Another one the I just read will be made into a movie! Definitely worth the time!!
Though there were pieces of this novel that felt...extra, the story itself does an amazing job of telling the tale of those of us in the LGBT+ community that tried to find reconciliation between who we are and what our religion wanted from us. I remember going to church camp and the feeling of disgust with myself that I was a gay man, which was taught to me by the "caring" counselors was against the God that I wanted to love me. I would completely recommend this book. It read really easily and reflected a lot of the emotions and struggles I faced as a teenager.
Haunting and eminently readable.
Interesting novel! Twist on the classic Alice in Wonderland tale as it takes a dark turn. The story is a bit slow in the beginning but moves along quickly. Good read. Dark humor, dark tales, interesting concept. Would recommend.
I'm not a fan of gruesome, graphic, gory horror; however, I'm a big fan of stories that are dark. Atmospheric. Disquieting. Plumbing the depths of the human psyche. Some of those stories are creepy dark. Some of them are deliciously dark. The Hazel Wood is gritty dark.
Alice has spent her life haunted by a collection of dark fairy tales famously authored by her grandmother. Haunted, and hounded. Always on the run, in one way or another, with her rootless mother. A loving, fiercely protective mother who has always been fully open and honest about everything. Except for one topic: Alice's grandmother--whom she has never met--and the famous, hard-to-find, collectable book--which she has never read. There is a mystery at the center of Alice's life.
Until the mystery begins to materialize all around her, and running is no longer an option. The darkness has finally caught up to Alice and her mother, and Alice is learning the dark secrets they have been fleeing--whether she wants to or not. And she is learning her place in that darkness.
The magic in this story is not enchanting. The princesses are not from Disney, or even Grimm. And the fairy tales are not the ones we're accustomed to. Alice must now face those stories to figure out who she is and determine if she can ever truly be free of them.
The Hazel Woods follows the story of Alice, daughter of the sharp and resilient Ella, granddaughter of the mysterious Althea Proserpine. Althea is the writer of a book of macabre fairy tales called “Tales from the Hinterland” with an underground cult-following. Ella won’t allow Alice to meet her infamous grandmother and the two move from place to place, trying to outrun the bad luck that always seems to be right behind them.
One day news comes that Althea has died and Ella feels they can finally settle down. Ella maries a rich New Yorker and Alice’s life stabilizes as she goes to a fancy private school with her spoiled step sister.
Then everything goes wrong. Ella is kidnapped by supposed characters of the tales in Althea’s books. She and a fellow schoolmate, Ellery Finch, must try to find a way to rescue her mother from the Hinterland characters. To do this, she will need to get to the Hazel Woods, her grandmother’s shrouded, unknown estate. Dark twists and a fast-paced plot bring Alice and the reader closer and closer to the dangerous fantasy world of the Hinterland.
Alice has a genuine 17 year old voice, but many parts of her character development felt rushed. However, the story makes up for a rocky beginning with a satisfying and exciting end. The Hazel Woods has a deliciously dark atmosphere, mostly because of the ominous foreshadowing in the stories in Althea’s book. The chapters in which Ellery Finch recounts the various stories from “Tales from the Hinterland” were my favorite parts. The tales are dark ruthless, and beautifully crafted; drawing on the origins of traditional Grimm fairy tales. (I would almost prefer a book of just the fairy tales themselves.) A fantasy lover must!
This is a dark twist on the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland and I feel that the dark and ominous cover does a good job of clueing us in.
Hmmm, the third book I've read this month where the family keeps moving. Zeitgeist, I guess. (The other two are Dream a Little Dream and Twist of Faith if you're interested). While the marketing for this book describes it like a fairy tale, I wouldn't categorize it that way. Alice and her mother have moved...a lot. Couch surfing, motel rooms, pool houses, apartments, it doesn't matter, because sooner or later, and usually sooner, something bad happens and they have to move on. Things burn down, get flooded out, torn up. Alice's mother, Ella, says they keep moving to stay ahead of the bad luck that always finds them, until she marries a wealthy New Yorker, Althea dies, and Ella suddenly believes they've left bad luck behind.
Alice has never lived this close to her recluse grandmother, Althea, who lived in a mansion in the Hazel Wood. The woman who doesn't help them get by, and the woman that Ella has avoided all of her adult life. Althea is the author of a set of stories called Tales of the Hinterland. Her reclusive nature have led fans to extreme lengths to find her, seemingly without success. When Ella goes missing, her only note to Alice is to stay out of the Hazel Wood. Which you know is exactly the opposite of what Ella is going to do.
The world that Alice enters is much closer to the dark stories of the Brothers Grimm than Lewis Carroll. The boy doesn't get the girl (or vice versa), and some people get killed along the way. Altogether a unique and dark story that's well worth the read.
Stunning writing and imagery.
A magical masterpiece. Well written, and an absolutely engaging read. I found it difficult to put down. Looking forward to more of the like from this talented author :)
An updated version of "Alice in Wonderland" where Alice gets sucked into the Hinterland with Finch by her side. Alice grew up with her mother running from something. Alice's mother, Ella, would not talk about what happened and why they ran. When Ella disappears one day, Alice sets out to find her with the help of Finch. After being sucked into fantasy land through a wooded portal, destiny prevails as Alice sets out to finish her story and find her mother. There are many twists and turns in the story and the ending is almost like "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy wakes up.