The Hazel Wood is a standalone dark portal fantasy by Melissa Albert. The book has a *gorgeous* cover that I couldn’t resist!
The synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I love portal fantasies, and I love retellings of Alice in Wonderland. I love dark fantasy, and stories that mash together things that are familiar and produce something surprising and fresh with them.
Based on the synopsis from Goodreads/the publisher and all those things that I love, I should have loved The Hazel Wood. Instead, I finished the book and thought to myself “Thank god that’s over now.”
I have mixed feelings about the book. On the one hand, I liked some of the relationships in the book. Alice and her step-sister Audrey, Alice and her mother – those were interesting, flawed relationships. On the other hand, The Hazel Wood felt like a manic-pixie-dreamgirl version of the synopsis. It was both dark and fluffy, with no real emotional impact and predictable even with some hidden surprises along the way.
I was hoping for another Uprooted or something that made me feel like the Wayward Children series does – but instead, I just felt disappointed.
The Hazel Wood hits shelves January 30, 2018.
I received an eARC of The Hazel Wood from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.