I was skeptical when I picked up The Hazel Wood that it wouldn’t live up to the hype, that I wouldn’t enjoy the twisted fairy tale as much as I hoped I would. But I was wrong. I was so wrong. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is incredible. I finished reading the last page and I was left speechless. I think I may die waiting for the sequel which is rumoured to be released next year. To sum things up The Hazel Wood is a dark and gritty story about claiming your future and writing your own story in a world where twisted fairy tales want you to follow their plan. It is just fantastic.

Synopsis

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.

Now I heard so many people rave on about this in the lead up to the release but it took me a while to get my hands on a copy thanks to the ever piling up stack of TBRs needing my attention. So when I got this at the Penguin Teen Showcase I was so excited to read this. The synopsis had me from the start, perhaps because I’m a sucker for twisted fairy tales.

The story follows Alice and her mother Ella, who are always moving place to place, in a bid to outrun the bad luck that hunts them and her grandmother, Althea, a cult fairy tale author whose books are almost impossible to find. After seventeen years on the run Alice’s mother is kidnapped by The Hinterland, and she is forced to seek the help of school mate Ellery Finch, a massive fan of her grandmothers work, to help her as he knows how the fairy tales go. The first half of the book is their road trip and hunt for The Hazel Wood, her grandmothers estate that is a bridge to The Hinterland. But you don’t find The Hinterland. It finds you. After winding up in the Half-way Wood and eventually reaching The Hinterland Alice finds herself alone and gets swept up in the twisted tales of her grandmother’s books. But can she escape them to save her mother? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out, won’t you.

Alice is such a well written and rich character. She’s rough around the edges with a dark streak, but her love for her mother will drive her to do everything and anything to get her back. She’s funny at times and clever, but also, like most teenagers, has her dim moments where it takes someone else to help her piece the puzzle together.

Now for most of the book I thought I knew where the story was going, and for the most part I was right. But I also was wrong. Albert leads you down this rabbit hole where things make sense to the readers in a specific way she pushes you into, only for you to find out those puzzle pieces went completely differently when the truth is finally revealed.

Finch is a great character and I loved him, even if he got a little too much fanboying over Alice’s grandmother and her book. He plays a really important role and as far as guys go in books, he’s a decent sorta guy for all his quirks and weird moments.

The world building is also incredible! Everything is so vivid and clear, your imagination will run wild in the beauty and horror of the world Albert has created in The Hinterland.

I really loved the actual creepy, twisted fairy tale Albert created for the cult book Alice’s grandmother wrote. Actually reading them yourself just makes it all feel more surreal, like a spider crawling across your skin. I loved it.

The Hazel Wood is a story with so many twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat, unable to put it down until you’re through, because that’s the only way out of The Hinterland. You must finish your story. It’s wonderfully dark and makes some great observations about the way we live and view our lives. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves dark fairytale re-tellings.