The Hazel Wood – Arc Review

Can the gorgeous cover support the prose inside?

34275232Seventeen-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.

5 Stars

There are not enough words to describe this gorgeously horrific fairy tale stole. If you think this is a fun, heartwarming fairy tale, you’re very wrong. This was a book about a girl finding herself, an almost love, and deciding what really matters in the world.

This book had the most delicious prose I’ve read in a long time. I was completely immersed in the world, so much so I swear I could taste the air sometimes. The background of New York made it even more magical. A city where anything and everything is possible. Where else would fairy tales occur?

Ella and Alice’s relationship was the main part of the book. A mother who would do anything for her daughter, whether moving across country overtime something turns bad or marrying a man she only slightly loves.

Alice is an angry girl who can’t fit in wherever she goes, though she doesn’t usually stay long enough to even try. She loves her mother more than anything in this world, and all the worlds she explores. Her mother is her person, her other half. It was so refreshing to see such a great relationship between mother and daughter.

Ellery Finch is still a mystery to me. I’m not sure how I feel about this boy. But I did fall a bit in love with him and his kindness. He played more of a part in this story than I could have ever guessed.

The Hazel Wood is a terrifying place of gritty, violent fairy tales that put Grimm’s to shame. It’s lush and her journey through felt like a horror story version of The Wizard of Oz.

There is a casual mention and showing of a queer relationship between two women. It’s not emphasized or made a big deal of. It just is. I nearly cried when I saw this. We need more of this in YA books, especially genres that aren’t contemporary. Queer relationships don’t have to be made a big deal of or exploited. They’re just there and they’re like any other relationship.

I suggest reading this one with the lights on. And maybe you’re pet nearby too. This book gets under your skin and stays there, terrifying and lush at the same time. You won’t want to put it down.

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