Have you ever read a book and realized it’s the kind of book you’ve been wanting to read your whole life? It sounds a little crazy, I know. And it’s hard to explain. But this is exactly how I felt while reading Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood. With sinister twists, stunningly beautiful prose, and worlds both mystifying and merciless, it’s a story that stays with you long after it’s over.
Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis in my September TBR post!
What I Liked: I noticed that parts of this book read like poetry. It has some of the strongest, most vivid imagery I’ve ever read, which has the chilling effect of both sating your appetite and leaving you starving for more. We see more of some characters than others, and even though not everyone’s story is told, it’s clear that each of them has their own. Alice was by far the most complex character. Watching her struggle with her anger, her lifelong questions, and her mother’s sudden disappearance gives the reader an opportunity to see the girl she is and watch as she becomes something else entirely. While some of the plot points are expected — we know from the beginning that Alice will find her way to the Hazel Wood — the journey is intensely rewarding and full of wicked surprises. If you’re not a fan of sugar-sweet fairy tales full of happily-ever-afters, look no further — because the fairy tales in this book will devour you whole. Black-eyed princesses, doors carved from blood, wide-eyed brides who move like clockwork… And just when you think you know what to expect, you find yourself spun around and running in a completely new direction.
What I Disliked: There was very little I disliked about this book. There were times when I felt pulled out of the story, particularly during some of Alice and Ellery’s conversations. I liked the dialogue, and their relationship was interesting. But I think there were times where I couldn’t quite understand Alice’s anger or frustration. (Looking back, I’m not sure I was meant to.) There were also a few small things I would have liked more clarification on towards the end. (I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll leave it at that.) But overall, I think this was an incredibly strong debut, and it may be the best book I’ve read so far this year!
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
About the Author: Melissa Albert
While reading this book, I was reminded of a few poetry collections, so I’ll list those here, in case you’d like to check them out:
- Dismantling the Rabbit Altar by Natasha Kessler
- The Grief Performance by Emily Kendal Frey
- At Night by Lisa Ciccarello
- The Next Monsters by Julie Doxsee
**Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me an uncorrected proof to read and review. I can’t wait to read the finished copy! 🙂 If you’re interested in reading this book, you can pre-order it now, and it will be released on January 30th, 2018.