I thought I was done with the fantasy genre until I found The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert and I was reintroduced to the genre by an original and captivating narrative.
The Hazel Wood is a dark fantasy that tells a story of Alice Proseprine , who constantly bounces from place to place with her mother, until after the death her grandmother – who wrote a book about dark-fairytales, dies. Her mother decides to stop life on the road. When her mother is taken, the individual responsible claims to be from the world that her grandmother wrote about. The only lead Alice has is the message left for her by her mother :”Stay away from the Hazel Wood” . The story or syponsis is more complex and complicated than this but I tried to capture it as best as I could.
What drew me to the book was the narrative, the concept of stories in a story. The construction of the dark world took my breath away and gave me goosebumps. The fantasy was weaved together in a beautiful and terrifying way and reading the book almost felt like falling down a rabbit hole – the further it went, the more intriguing and terrifying it got.
The focus on the mother- daughter relationship was one of my favourite aspects of the book. This storyline is a different and refreshing read. Another aspect of the book I loved was the absence of a fantasy genre trope : Love triangles. I was so relived and thankful for that, and another thing I appreciate; how Alice’s love life is not taking up an excessive amount of time and doesn’t over shadow the main focus of the book.
Thirdly and most certainly not the last thing I love about this book, is the worlds created and how the author weaved them separately and together; it is unique, terrifying and breathtaking. The imagery throughout the book is done so well and a sense of being lost in the universe is created. The author puts her spin on fairytales and taking fairytales to a dark, twisty, mind-bending and hair-raising dimension.
Alice’s character can be seen as difficult in the first few chapters, I personally was not annoyed by this and I general I did not find her annoying. There are layers to her that she is unaware of and as you continue down the rabbit hole, a lot is made clear about the protagonist.
The one thing that nicked me about the book was the lack of clarity in certain aspects of the story, but it did not affect or deter my interest in it, it just raised questions and elements I felt were left unanswered and unfinished, but apparently there will be a second book so fingers crossed those questions will be answered.
Overall, The Hazel Wood is a unique and refreshing story that has helped shape the way I shop for and my attitude towards fantasy. Falling into The Hazel Wood was a thrilling experience.
RATING : 4.8/5