The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Hazel Wood
Melissa Albert
Series Name: The Hazel Wood
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 8th, 2018
Pages: 355 (Paperback)
Publishers: Penguin
3 and a half star

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a 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 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. 

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .


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I actually love this cover! It looks a lot better in person than in the image above. As they used a combination of matte & shiny coating on the cover. The shiny parts are all the creases and details in the leaves. It makes it really pretty but also still creepy as hell.

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I enjoyed the writing of this book but it wasn’t anything overly special. It was creepy but also kinda slow until the last 30%. However, it did keep me hooked! I had trouble putting it down.

This is kinda random but I strongly disliked the last couple chapters of this book. After everything happens and Alice is back in the real world she becomes so dull. I don’t like her anyway (see the characters section) but it went from a fleshed out character in most of the book to this meh character with no motivation, thoughts, cares or absolutely anything. It was like reading from the POV of a stick. I know that it says that afterwards she may not be the same, but if the whole next book is written like those last chapters, I will be DNFing it real quick. I had such a struggle getting through those last pages of this book.

This book suffered from the ‘absent parents’ trope which is seriously overdone. Alice’s mother was kidnapped, so yeah that one I didn’t mind but the only other person from the human world had parents that apparently didn’t give a damn at all. They didn’t even try and get the police to search for him when he ‘went missing/ran away’.

I really enjoyed the fairytales in this book! Even though we didn’t really get them in full they were interesting. I discovered after reading that she is going to come out with a book of fairytales (same idea as The Tales of Beedle the Bard from J.K. Rowling & Tales of the Peculiar from Ransom Riggs). I’m more excited for the ‘Tales from the Hinterland’ to come out than I am about the second book in this series honestly.

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The plot was, for the most part, interesting. However, there were some predictable parts and most of the time the things I predicted were the big plot twists. So that was a little annoying. Also, the middle of the book was a tad slow. Things happened, but they happened within one page and the rest of the chapter was just meh.

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The main character irritated the shit out of me. I don’t know if she was meant to be an ‘unlikable main character’ but holy crap I didn’t like her. She was selfish as hell and didn’t really give a damn about anything but herself and her mother (and another character later on).
She was annoyingly stubborn and would snap at Finch for basically no reason. She would also think about hurting or killing people all the time when they were doing perfectly normal things that she didn’t happen to like. Then there was the time that she ran them off the road and nearly ploughed into the trees because she was pissed at herself. There was also the times when she was extremely judgemental! It was mentioned many times that the people in The Hazel Wood and The Halfway Wood may have mental problems due to what they went through in The Hazel Wood & The Half Way Wood. So it’s not like she didn’t know but good damn was she judging those people so hard because they may not have been up to her standard! Basically, if someone didn’t act the same as she did then they weren’t good enough for her.  I know her anger played a part in the story later on but it annoyed me a tonne! Like, stop being a bitch!
It also annoyed me that she barely ever called her mother ‘Mum’… It was always ‘Ella’. I would understand if she and her mother weren’t close but Alice basically didn’t know how to survive without Ella, so there really wasn’t any reason not to call her ‘Mum’.
*My above statement does alter later in the story after a plot twist, but for the most part it is true!*

Finch was also a character I didn’t love. A lot of his actions annoyed me, but even more, I was annoyed at how Alice reacts to the things that he did. Also there not even a relationship thing that they had was just weird. At the start he was made out to be this kinda creepy, won’t leave me alone type guy and the next thing she is confused about what they were and whether she thought of him as a friend. Then he is risking his life to help her and she is still being a bitch to him and on multiple occasions wants to leave him behind but ‘he is all I have’… So he stays.
He was also a very undeveloped character we know nothing about him except he is rich, black and has parents that don’t care at all.. But knowing that Alice never seemed to give a damn about actually getting to know him, so that is why the reader didn’t get to know him either.
Also another thing with Finch, apparently he is a POC. This is never stated in the many times that Alice describes him, but he is. There is only one point when this is even vaguely mentioned (that I could find) and that is when they run into a cop that Alice has a go at and he makes a comment along the lines of ‘do you think I would get away with talking to a cop like that’.. So yeah, apparently he is POC. But if you missed it in that scene you would have no idea.

Most of the other characters were just meh or didn’t have enough page time for me to really care about and form an opinion of them. Except for Janet, she was actually my favourite character! She had common sense, she was kind and tried to help out other people. Oh, and she is either bisexual or lesbian or something in the LGBTQIAP+ realm. It’s never stated but she has a girlfriend and talks about her love for another woman in her past.

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I enjoyed the writing and the plot of this book but the characters were a real let down. I only liked one character out of the many that were in this book.. The fairytales were creepy and interesting and were probably my favourite part. Other than that, I enjoyed myself reading it but I had a few issues with this one.

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