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Publication Date: February 8th 2018 (first published January 30th 2018)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Goodreads Blurb: 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 . . .
“Life never turns out how you imagine it will when you’re young. Everything is smaller than you think, or too big. It all smells a little funny and fits like somebody else’s shirt.”
Okay, so today I am posting the review of a book which is currently in too much hype and was actually one of the most anticipated reads of many, including mine. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected. This is so sad considering the beautiful cover (the alternate edition) and the blurb gave so much hope to me 🙁 In fact, I realize it now, that I went into a reading slump last month because of this book only. It was too dragged. In simple words, this book was not for me.
This story is about Alice who grew up moving from one place to another with her mom Ella. They were always haunted by bad luck so they kept changing their places until one day they receive a letter that Alice’s grandmother, Althea, is dead. Althea was the author of famous fairytales books titled Tales of the Hinterland. Alice was never able to get her hands on the actual book but once her mother gets disappear she had no way except entering the dark and mysterious world of Hinterland and the Hazel Wood.
Let’s move forward with another bullet-point review.
What I Liked
- Like everyone else, I loved the writing of Melissa Albert. There is no doubt that she wrote beautifully and at times it was captivating. It was only her writing that I was even able to finish it. Her writing made the story glorious. I loved her writing more when the chapters were actually fairy tales.
- I loved the different fairy tales that the author wrote. In fact, reading those fairy tales were my favourite part of this book. All the stories were creepy and some of those even gave me goosebumps. They were so dark and interesting. In fact, I liked them more than the real story.
- I usually like the mother-daughter relationship in books and I loved the relationship of Alice and Ella here too. Alice was so determined to find her mother that she was ready to do anything and go anywhere to find her mother. I loved how the author has portrayed this emotion through the story.
- Finch as a character was so adorable. I liked how he was so invested in Althea’s book. I liked him as a reader. Also, I liked his friendship with Alice. It was slowly built and it was good that there was no romance plot given, for once 😀
- I like all the description of the Hazel Wood and Hinterland to some point. Knowing all those little details about the estate was really interesting.
What I didn’t like
- The first half of the book seemed very slow and was dragged too much. I don’t think it was required to make it that long. Most of the first part contains the road trips of Alice and Ella which doesn’t add much to the main plot.
- I was not able to relate to Alice as a character. I wanted to love and understand her. But with all the craziness and anger that was portrayed for her, I felt it really hard to connect with her. At times I was irritated by all the foolishness she was doing and the way she used Finch.
- I wanted more story for Ella and Finch. I really wanted to know Ella. I felt that her part as a character in the story was too small. Also, a major portion of the book was set around the stories written by Alice’s grandmother Althea, yet we don’t see her side of the story as much as required.
- The second part of the book was filled with so many random and bizarre characters. I had a hard time remembering the purpose of each of them in the story. Later part became Alice in Wonderland for me with all those creepy characters kept popping in.
- There was too much information withhold with each character and sometimes I was irritated. You don’t need every character to hide some information so that you can introduce a new character. It just made the story more confusing for me. I think there were some secrets which could have been told earlier rather than waiting for almost the end.
- I didn’t like the ending. I felt it was too rushed and complicated. I had a hard time understanding it all and the coincidences were just weird. I wish there was some different ending.
This book was certainly not for me. Though I appreciate the author’s writing style and her imagination, I am not impressed by the story itself and the characters. I felt that this book would have been more interesting if it was just a short stories collection of those creepy fairy tales instead of a whole novel. For most of the parts it was boring for me and I had to literally drag it till the end. This book is more suited for the readers who like creepy tales and heavy fantasy world.
A dark and creepy tale which is enjoyable in parts. The writing is beautiful but the story itself is the weak point. #TheHazelWood
** Thank you Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for providing me eARC of this book. Buying this book from here would support this blog.
Have you read this book? What do you think of it?
Do you like creepy and mysterious stories with heavy fantasy? Or you are a light fantasy reader?