“The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert

Love the cover!!

I didn’t intend to read this book when I heard it was coming out because I’d given up on YA. But then I read a short blog post by a book seller who had read and loved the book and her enthusiasm infected me. So, as soon as I saw an e-copy available at my library, I placed it on hold.


YA Fantasy


January 2018


The Hazel Wood

Goodreads summary:

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

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

It wasn’t what I expected. Whenever I heard or read about this book, I got the impression that the majority of it would be set in a fantasy world steeped in magic, but such wasn’t the case. Instead, we are mostly grounded in reality as the protagonist learns about the magical world she’s tied to where she believes her mother was kidnapped and carried off to. This didn’t bother me much. The posts and videos about this book sung it such high praises that my curiosity about it was too high for my interest to be easily swayed. And since I began the story with an open mind, I was hardly annoyed by much.

But it wasn’t what I expected in any way. It was a decent read and it kept my attention, but I thought it would be dripping in magic and wrapped in prose so descriptive that I’d yearn to sample the fantasy world of this book. But that didn’t happen. I was never fully immersed and when we do visit the fantasy setting, it didn’t draw me in. However, I liked the few fairy tales included in the story and would love to read more of those. Actually, I’d love to read Tales from the Hinterland, the book of dark fairy tales mentioned in the story. It sounded intriguing and had a sense of creepiness about it that I liked.

As for the characters, they didn’t stand out to me and I didn’t like the protagonist. She’s very much an unlikeable character. I don’t think this series is one I’ll continue with but if Albert does publish the Tales from the Hinterland book mentioned in the story, I’ll read it.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

It’s decent and well-written and the fairy tales are interesting.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Quotes from the book:

“Nobody here has a goddamned sense of humor. Or a god, for that matter. Maybe you need one to have the other. The sense of being at someone’s mercy, so you can laugh about it.”

25 thoughts on ““The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert

  1. Hmmmm. One of my other blogger friends just posted a review of this recently and enjoyed it quite a bit (she gave it 4 stars out of 5). I hadn’t really heard much about The Hazel Wood until recently, so I guess I’m behind the curve here. *lol* But it sounds interesting. Maybe it’s worth borrowing the book from the library instead of buying it?


  2. Almost every review I read for this one starts off “It wasn’t what I was expecting.” LOL I’ve seen this one on way to many “top disappointments of 2018” lists. It is such a shame the insides don’t seem to match the cover. It is absolutely stunning!


    1. Lol. I think that’s because of the great expectations for the content. I think we all expected it to be more magical. Those who go in open-minded tend to enjoy it more.
      Oh yes! The cover totally got me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I will say that I adored this book. However, I completely understand your review and feelings! I think what saved it for me was that I spoke with someone else who read it before I picked it up. So I did not hold the same expectations everyone else did. Had I went in on blurb alone, I think my opinion would have favored your own. Excellent review 💜


  4. Well there are surely lots of mixed reviews about this book. I still haven’t purchased the book so I don’t really know on whether should I give it a go or choose another series instead.


    1. It’ll depend on what you like. I think it’s best to go into it with an open mind. That’s what kept me reading. It just wasn’t what I expected which is why I didn’t love it, but it was a decent read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah, many of the criticisms I read in reviews echoed yours. I didn’t know much about the book before I started, which is probably why I wasn’t disappointed by the relative lack of magic and fantasy. I actually liked the beginning a lot, but hated the ending, lol!


    1. Lol! I didn’t like the end either, but for me I think it’s because I don’t care much for the protagonist so I didn’t care for how it ended. The part where she meets peeps in Hazel Wood got me excited. I was expecting more from those parts.


  6. Ahh the disappointment is real. I’ve heard people complain that they would have wished there was more of that fantasy world instead of the real world too. Hope your next read will be much more fun and satisfying.


  7. I really loved this book, but I do see the points you made about it. There are things I hope gets answered or ironed out in the second book. I do agree that if Tales from the Hinterland was published, I would love to read it too. It was one of my favourite aspects of the book.


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