The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

the hazel woodbkreviewtemp1 (3)
The Hazel Wood
By Melissa Albert
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250147905
Pages: 368
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale


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.


The Hazel Wood seems to have generated a lot of buzz this year. There is this great divide between the love and dislike (hate is such a strong word).  I started off eagerly adding this one to my TBR with great enthusiasm that slowly began to waiver as reviews rolled out. Fortunately, in my case, my fears were unwarranted and this was a success! I lean heavily into the group of readers who embrace this darker tale with open arms.

Alice is a 17-year-old girl who has spent her entire life on the road with her mother Ella.  A life clouded with bad luck, they hurriedly pick up and relocate each time things go wrong. She also happens to be the granddaughter of Althea Prosperine, an author known for an elusive and famous collection of dark fairy tales entitled Tales from the Hinterland. But after her mother receives notice that Althea has passed and then mysteriously vanishes, Alice soon discovers that there is much to her grandmother’s collection. With the help of a young fan and classmate Ellery Finch, she sets out for her grandmother’s estate, The Hazel Wood, in search of her mother. But she finds more than she could ever bargain for.

I will be the first to admit that The Hazel Wood unfolds at a somewhat leisurely pace for nearly 70% of the book. Character development is slow and challenging. We are presented with a protagonist that is difficult to like but not hard to appreciate. While I struggled to “love” Alice’s rough attitude, I also found myself unable to fault her. I found the fact that she referred to her mother by name to be irritating and also often felt she was overly aggressive. But when reflecting on her disheveled life and lack of roots, it was still relatable or at least understandable at its core. It works. You do not have to like characters for them to be viable and rewarding. Alice is a prime example of this. I also found great appreciation in supporting characters such as Ellery and those she encounters during their journey that offered a complimentary balance to Alice’s flaws and shortcomings.

The storyline was where I found complete satisfaction with The Hazel Wood. Albert’s decision to incorporate the stories from Althea Prosperine’s book into the narrative was brilliant and countered the pacing issues I was facing. I thoroughly loved reading the dark and twisted fairytales. I think I may have favored them over the actual plot though so I can see how some found disappointment within depending on expectations. For myself, I was entirely okay with this fact and the brief tales drove me to want to explore Alice and her mother’s disappearance more. They were cleverly placed throughout, providing the necessary momentum and turning what might have otherwise been another YA fantasy into something special, a new collection of fairy tales.

My love he wooed me
My love he slew me
My love he buried my bones
His love he married
His love I buried
My love now wanders alone 

The writing is engaging and detailed while remaining plot oriented and forgoing the typical frivolities. The fairytales unfold with a poetic prose. There is an admirable lack of the normal tropes one would expect to encounter, and the end experience is hauntingly smooth and lingering. It has been a week since I completed the book, and I do not find myself struggling to review it. It remains as vivid now as the very night I completed it. That alone speaks volumes. Fans of those traditionally bleaker fairytales who enjoy a good mystery will want to sink their teeth into this one.

*I would like to thank the publisher for my copy. The above review is my own, honest and unbiased opinion.

tea cupPairs well with a nice cup of oolong and ginger.

Purchase Links: Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Friday Favorites: Fairy Tale Retellings

new Friday fave
Friday Favorites is a post where I incorporate more of what I love into the blog. This includes films, anime, manga, music, you name it. Anything goes.  It will be an opportunity to share some of the things I love and discuss them briefly or in length, depending on my mood 😉

In light of my recent post Fairy Tales and Why We Still Need Them As Adults, I thought it would be fun to share a few fairy tales and retellings I enjoy in book and on-screen. Keep in mind, that this is one of my favorite genre’s. This is the smallest fraction of titles I enjoy. I hope to explore this in greater length soon!

fairy tales & retellings infographic.png

What are some of your favorite fairy tales & retellings to read or watch? I am partial to each of the above for various reasons. Be it the element of good overcoming evil or the unique spin given to timeless tales, I find each to be rewarding in their own right.

Happy Friday,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Fairy Tales and Why We Still Need Them As Adults

Fairy Tales

I grew up pouring through the multiple collections of fairy tales and folklore available through my own book case the local library. Each time I cracked open a new story, I was enshrouded in endless possibilities that fostered exploration and piqued curiosity. But there was also something of greater value within.

Image Source

Through these journeys I faced countless obstacles which not only challenged the protagonist, but myself. The end result was often a rewarding lesson of morals that actually helped my younger self navigate the early stages of right and wrong in life. It is easy to understand why these stories that have been passed down for generations will be forever timeless.

Today’s YA and often Adult fantasy aisles are littered with retellings and re-imaginings of countless classics. You can easily find stories of Sleeping Beauty or Vasilisa the Beautiful. And I could not be more thrilled about this. While we find that many authors are choosing to revisit the more original and sinister root of some stories, there is still significant value to be found between the pages in our older age.

Fairy tales help us explore our emotions. Even as adults, it can be difficult to face and work through the multiple and often complex emotions that life throws at us on a daily basis. More often than not, the narrative within these stories feature a protagonist who is facing several dilemmas and will experience a wide array of feelings ranging from sorrow to gratification along the way. It can often be strengthening and inspiring to not only relate to these feeling and hurdles but witness how the protagonist chooses to overcome them.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline


Our moral compass muscle still needs to be flexed. I am a firm believer that we should never stop striving to do better and be better. Even as we age, we need to be reminded of the good and bad in this world and assess how we handle each. Fairy tales are saturated with actions and consequences that we can still learn from. Those meaningful messages tucked within do not lose value simply because we are older. In fact, I have found that I have been able to garner more from some stories now than I did in childhood.

“Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality — for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it widely.”
― Terri Windling

Continuing to explore other cultures and traditions is important. We live in a constantly changing world. For many of us, a large portion of it might be left unseen or unexplored. Through folklore and fairy tales, we are given a glimpse into various aspects of life such as religion, social customs and very practices that we may never have encountered otherwise.


Sometimes we just need to let go and dream a little. Life can be more than hard at times. Engaging in reading (particularly fantasy) provides the reader with a healthy reprieve. Stories that feature our favorite characters and elements from childhood fairy tales offer a fun, nostalgic form of escapism with the added benefits mentioned above.

The widely growing selection of retellings often take the classics and place a spin on them that appeals to an older target audience but still captures the necessary components when successfully executed. I have little doubt that I will continue to devour fairy tales for many years to come.

Do you still enjoy fairy tales? If so, what is it that you feel draws you back to them as an adult?

Let’s Chat,

Danielle ❤