Book Review – The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141388663

Seventeen-year-old Alice Prosperine and her mother, Ella, have spent most of Alice’s life on the run. They always seem to be a step ahead of the bad luck that follows them.

Alice’s grandmother, Althea the reclusive author of Tales From The Hinterland, a book of dark fairy tales, dies on her estate, the Hazel Wood. Then Ella is taken by a figure who claims to come from the world where her grandmother’s stories are set. All copies of the book have disappeared and there is a cult following who search for it and the author.

Alice’s only lead to help her find her mother is the message: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

Alice and her new friend, the mega-wealthy Ellery Finch, set out to find her. Along the way, we meet a strange series of characters and we read a few of the stories, including ‘Three Times Alice’ and ‘The Door That Wasn’t There’. To save her mother, Alice has to let go of her fears, stop running, and enter the world from Althea’s book.

Alice is not a particularly likeable character, but I found her story compelling. Melissa Albert is a good writer who has created a dark fairy tale world that is more unfiltered Grimm Brothers than Disney, and for that reason alone, The Hazel Wood, is worth reading.

Amanda Patterson

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141388663

Alice has been plagued by bad luck her entire life. When her grandmother dies she thinks her bad luck is over and she can finally stop running, but when her mother is kidnapped she finds herself in big trouble. She must return to The Hazel Wood to find her mother and bring her back.

The Hazel Wood is her reclusive grandmother’s estate and the setting of a book of fairy tales her grandmother wrote years ago. This is also the place Alice and her mother have been avoiding forever.

I love young adult, fantasy and magic realism, so let’s say I set the bar high. I loved the premise of the book, but I wanted a bit more. The book is based on a book of fables, which I would love to read, and I thought the writing could be more reminiscent of it. It was a little slow at times, but the vivid use of senses managed to capture the imagination. Overall, a fun read.

Mia Botha