Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert
Genre: Teen, Dark Urban Fantasy
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Flatiron Books
First Published: January 30, 2018
First Line: "My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways."

Book Description from GoodReadsSeventeen-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 super fan 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.

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I can't remember having such drastic feelings about a book. The first half (which I read in one sitting - thank you, insomnia!) captivated me. I found it suspenseful, engaging, a little creepy and I was intrigued by the stunning cover and the dark fairy tale aspect.

And then, a little more than half way through, the book took on a different feel. At this point, the story became convoluted and the world building was done so quickly, not giving readers time to acclimate, that I was left feeling an overall sense of confusion. Many secondary and tertiary characters float in and out of the story that it left me wondering who was important.

The Hazel Wood has a unique premise that is very much story-centric leaving readers with only two main characters - Alice and to a lesser extent, Ellery Finch, her school mate who is an avid fan of Alice's grandmother's book. Alice is an unlikable, ornery main character and without a connection to her, and with a confusing second half of the book, I can't say that I finished the book as enamoured with it as I began. I definitely liked parts - Finch, the writing and suspense in the first half but the last half of the book pulled my rating down.

I realize that other readers have adored this book and perhaps this dark urban fantasy read just isn't the book for me. If you're into dark fairy tales and want a story to take you to places you've never imagined this may be a book for you.

Disclaimer: This ARC was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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