I had ironically just finished updating my TBR queue based on a list of hotly anticipated books for 2018, when our Queen Bee offered me the chance to read the one I was most excited about early. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert had been near the top of several lists I had perused online, and the synopsis alone was chill-inducing, oozing with dark promise. And it delivered ten fold, this is by far the creepiest, most captivating fairy tale-esque book I have ever read; it is a book that will make my fellow readers view the idea of the land of make-believe in a far more sinister light.
“So, why not five stars?” you may be asking yourself. My only criticism of this book lies in its last 15%, with an ending that seems both anticlimactic, and empty. There is a great deal of buildup to the point when Alice learns the secrets of the Hazel Wood and the Hinterland, only to offer a quick resolution to the situation, that seemed far too easy. Additionally, I’m a proud member of the happily-ever-after crowd, and that is not what you get with this book. I found myself aching more for Alice at the end of the book than I had throughout her entire period of tribulation detailed in the rest of the story. However, things seemed to be left open-ended enough to allow for a future second installment to Alice’s tale…in which case I may end up having to eat these words!
Now that I have the negatives out of the way, let m
e take some time to rave about this book! The writing is flawless, with descriptions that paint vivid pictures in the mind’s eye, and evoke stirring emotions…I could almost feel Alice’s uncontrollable rage and urge to be cruel, along with her crushing sense of loneliness and separateness. The breadcrumb trail of clues to Alice’s true identity allows readers to figure it out just ahead of the major revelation, but adeptly hides some of the more sinister plot twists, resulting in a thrill ride of epic proportions. The Hazel Wood will be available tomorrow, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales, or anyone who has ever wondered what would happen if fairy tales came to life and broke out of their story lines. Yes, even my fellow lovers of the happily-ever-after story, because this is a book that truly should not to be missed!