Hi guys, I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far.
Today, I’m super excited to be reviewing The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert.
The Hazel Wood follows Alice, a teenage obsessed with learning about her mysterious grandmother, the author Althea Proserpine. All her life, Alice and her mother Ella have run from ‘back luck’, moving constantly to new places until at seventeen years old, that same ‘bad luck’ finally starts to make sense to Alice.
When Alice’s mother disappears, Alice sets out on a dangerous journey to find the Hazel Wood,
where her grandmother is said to reside. Alongside her is her school friend, Ellery Finch, who is
just as obsessed with Alice’s grandmother and her writing.
The book mainly follows Alice and Ellery Finch’s journey as they discover more about her grandmother’s crazy tales. Alice is a clever and curious character, with an underlying anger that sometimes gets the better of her. I felt for her plight, for all of the pain and suffering she had to endure all her young life. I really wanted her to succeed in finding her mother and learning the truth.
Ellery ‘Finch’ provided a nice contrast to Alice: funny, compassionate and helpful, he had a positive presence and an oddly energetic feel to him. The pair’s budding friendship was well-developed and had me rooting for them both all through the book.
Likes and Dislikes
The story starts well, drawing you in with details of Alice’s unfortunate life with her mother. As it progressed, I saw the author’s wild imagination pick up, blending the everyday world with a sense of dark magic and myth. There was an almost surreal horror tinging the pages as warnings are ignored and known threats are pursued, resulting in terrible consequences for Alice.
The book was heavy on figurative language, which at first was quite brilliant but felt a little over-used toward the end, actually taking away from the story’s climax.
The one thing I disliked was a crucial turning point toward the end of the story. The book went in a completely different direction than I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, however from that point on, things felt a little disjointed and rushed, and I wasn’t as involved with the story as I had been.
As often happens with books I love, I couldn’t settle on a single quote to share. Instead, I have three.
1) ‘A girl who does nothing in a fairy-tale ends up dead or worse, but a girl who makes a decision usually gets rewarded.’
Those who do nothing often drift through life, however those who make choices have the ability to alter their future, for better if they choose.
2) ‘Don’t you ever feel like your life is a movie? And you’re playing a part?’
I’ve felt this often enough and don’t know if you have, but it’s a very odd feeling. I could be walking down a street, or talking to someone close to me and suddenly feel as if my life is pre-constructed, like I’m an actor reading off of a script and I can become detached from my part, wondering what I am doing and if someone, somewhere could be watching my life like some peculiar movie.
3) ‘I’d let myself drift too close to the dark continent at the core of me, a lawless place I tried never to visit.’
Here, the author seems to be referring to the Jungian Shadow, the part of ourselves where all of our darkness and flaws collect. This is the part of ourselves we often try to deny exists, however, this denial only tends to make the shadow stronger, until it can take over our lives.
I find that acknowledging our flaws and the darker aspects of ourselves can help us achieve more of a balance in life. Don’t be afraid of your shadow: know that it is a normal a part of every person and serves its own purpose.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story. The modern-day setting made it feel all the more real and I really came to care about the character’s plight. Themes of death, secrets, love, and the supernatural infused the pages, making for an intriguing read.
I would recommend this book to lovers of the dark fantasy genre, especially teens.
My rating: 4 stars.
Thank you for joining me for today’s review.
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As always, have a wonderful week,