New Adult

The Hazel Wood

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Book Information

Title: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Genre: New Adult | Dark Fantasy | Urban Fantasy | Fairytale

Publication Date: January 30, 2018

ISBN: 1250147905

Pages: 349

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“There are no lessons in it. There’s just this harsh, horrible world touched with beautiful magic, where shitty things happen. And they don’t happen for a reason, or in threes, or in a way that looks like justice. They’re set in a place that has no rules and doesn’t want any.”

Ellery Finch

The Hazel Wood Summary

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, by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world from her grandmother’s stories. 

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 . . . 

The Hazel Wood Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Melissa Albert’s writing debut embraces the dark aspects of fairy tales. Think more of the classic Grimm Brother’s stories than Disney’s Happily Ever After; you know the ones where the step-sisters cut off pieces of their feet to fit in the glass slipper. Alice lives in the shadow of her grandmother’s novel ‘Tales of the Hinterland’ and the mystery surrounding this elusive publication. Alice and her mother have spent their lives constantly on the move, attempting to be one step ahead of the bad luck that follows them. When a letter arrives that starts that her grandmother is dead, Alice’s mother think they’re finally able to settle down.

When strange things start happening, Alice turns to Ellery Finch, as she doesn’t want to destroy their new settled life and her mother’s ideas by turning to her. Ellery was someone I expected to dislike, likely being the typical love interest in a new adult fantasy romance. He’s smart, rich, and has an obvious infatuation all things related to ‘Tales of the Hinterland’, including Alice. Despite this, Finch ended up remaining down to earth. He acknowledge his own wealth and faults, just as he tries to get Alice to acknowledge her own privilege when her anger gets the better of her, in a situation where if he had reacted in anger would have had extremely different results.

The book shies away from romance, which is not what I expected when Alice and Ellery were introduced and started spending time together. I loved that though both of the characters liked each other, they remained cautious and timid, almost intentionally avoiding their feelings.

The ending of the novel is controversial; it’s unsatisfying, and answers are purposefully withheld. Which has lead to many people either completely loving the book, or completely hating it, no in-between. You never learn all the details of what happened and why. However, this is a type of ‘unsatisfying’ that works. The whole novel is Alice searching for meaning and explanations as to why she has had the life she has and why these things have happened recently. The denial of these answers adds to the Grimm Brother’s type of dark fairytale this novel is. I enjoyed the novel, I’m a not disappointed to see that there is a sequel. The book stands on its’ own, yet I can’t imagine where the plot will go.

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More about Melissa Albert

Melissa Albert is the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog and the managing editor of She has written for McSweeney’sTime Out Chicago, MTV, and more. Melissa is from Illinois and lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Hazel Wood is her first novel.

The Hazel Wood Series

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