Book: The Hazel Wood – Author: Melissa Albert
Genre: YA, Mystery, Fairy Tales
Description from Goodreads:
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.
Where to begin!?! This book was amazing. I absolutely love innovative fairy tale books; ones that create their own fairy tale world and then force “regular” people to interact with them. This author imagined several completely new tales and managed to integrate them into the world in a way that was entirely believable.
As to the characters…I will admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Alice, the main character, at first. Kind of cranky and stand-offish, she took some getting used to. Though, her personality does end up getting completely explained and, by the end of the book, I was totally rooting for her.
On the other hand, I completely adored Ellery, Alice’s somewhat unwanted sidekick, from the get-go. I think it’s because he reminded me so much of myself. Completely smitten with a fictional world and rather awkward in this one, Ellery is determined to find a way into the Hazel Wood and escape the drudgery that is his “real life”.
And the stories…sigh. How I loved the stories. Jam packed with devastation, just like the much-loved original Grimm tales. The villains are horrific beings from long ago, the type that would rather eat you than help you. No “fairy godmother” in this book…or well, not a nice one anyway. There was real danger in this novel. It gripped me tight and didn’t let me go until it reached its conclusion.
I highly recommend this book for people who love old-school fairy tales. The ones where you aren’t entirely certain your favorite character will make it out alive.
The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly