The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (ARC Review)

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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.

*Thanks so much for the publisher for sending me over a copy!!*

I’m not sure what I even read was real or not? Like, it seemed kind of real at the time that I was reading it, but now that I’m finished, I don’t know. Maybe it was a fairytale?

This story was great until it just got to be…not enough if that makes any sense. Albert does a wonderful job at creating a lush, spooky atmosphere. The stories are chilling. The characters are dark and mysterious. Everything had me guessing. Literally, if asked me what I would give the concept, the atmosphere, the writing, and the mood, it would easily be five crowns, for sure.

The issues come to be with a few different things. The first item is the characters. I didn’t like any of them. Honestly, Ella was the most intriguing of them to me, and I mean, she wasn’t nearly any of the main characters. I kept forgetting Alice’s name, and I didn’t like her from the start. The truth is – any of these characters could have been substituted and I would never have known. The atmosphere and concept was the shining star here, and Alice, Finch, and the rest of them were forgettable and interchangeable. I don’t even know what to do with Finch either.

The second issue was the plot. I tried to follow the linear path, but I just kept getting a bit confused. I would think we were going somewhere, and then it just seemed like there was a big distraction with a spooky story or something and then I don’t know what we did. I can’t even explain to you the plot. All I got was Hinterland. Literally, I feel like that was the excuse and plot for anything.

And to speak more about it, I’m still confused on Hinterland. Is it a place? A world within a world? I DON’T KNOW. Whenever anything happened that was odd, one of the main characters would go, Hinterland, and the other would be like, oh, kk, and then they would go about their merry way. I still don’t even get it??

Cinderella definitely understands the whole gruesome fairytale thing before Disney swooped in.

To tell the truth, I stopped reading at about 73% of the story. I mean, I was skimming starting at 50% but I couldn’t sum up the energy to go through all the rest of it. I mean, I read the ending and such, but I kept looking at the rest of the story going, but I really don’t care??? This to me reminded me a bit of this old Disney Channel movie, Don’t Look Under the Bed. It was so creepy and suspenseful for the longest time and once you get the climax and enter under the bed land, it just gets weird and you’re on some weird acid trip you didn’t sign up for and don’t want to be on and don’t even get? That’s the ending of this story and I just gave up on it.

If Albert was to come out with a book on just her spooky stories or using this same setting with more complex characters, this would easily be a five crown read. She really created such a wonderfully dark, brilliantly creepy world, and I would love to dive deeper into it. She has so much potential, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her other works. Two crowns and a Cinderella rating!


14 thoughts on “The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (ARC Review)

  1. Haha this sounds so much like The Wintersong. I kept going in circles in that story too.
    Kind of makes me feel glad by reading your review because netgalley declined this arc when I requested it 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s so much praise about this book that I’m suprised to see a negative review (it’s like a unicorn!).
    I’m sad you didn’t enjoy it, because honestl the premise sounded like an awesome dark and eery fairytale! I guess I’ll go with low expectations into this one when I pick it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesssss, I felt like I was in a lone boat out here, Nia, with no one else not liking it XD

      But I hope you find it better because the dark and eerie fairytale part was super super cool. It was just all the action they were trying to make and fell apart. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh I’m so sorry to hear this was such a big disappointment, Mandy! The world building sounds absolutely fantastic but everything else failed to keep up so what’s the point? :/ I’d be pretty frustrated too, if I were you.
    As soon as I read the synopsis, I was IN. It sounded absolutely wonderful! But now that I’ve read your review I feel super hesitant. I think I’ll still give it a go but I’ll proceed a lot more carefully than before and keep my expectations low (which is always a good strategy).
    Bland and interchangeable characters are the worst! Why did the author put so much effort into her world and not bother with the voices carrying the reader there?? Ugh. So easily avoidable. And a confusing plot that makes you question your own sanity at times is just terrible xD
    Nevertheless, awesome review, Mandy! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that sounds like a super good idea and plan, Sophie! I saw so many amazing reviews on it beforehand, so I kind of assumed that it was going to be flawless and it just kind of messed with me. But I AGREE about the characters. Like, if you’re making a super cool world but it gets lost if you don’t have a cool character to go with it too. It’s like a postcard which may get a bit broing after a while. But yes. I really was doubting myself with not understanding and that’s something you don’t want. Thanks so much, Sophie! ❤


  4. Dang, I was really hoping this one would be super epic and lush and delicious. But the comparison to the Don’t Look Under the Bed has me seriously questioning things because that movies was different levels of weird and What?????
    I hate not-liking the characters they are the souls of the story!! How can one read a book about people and not care for them!? Sigh…
    Lovely review Mandy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMIGOSH YES. That’s kind of how I had to sum up the book, Rendz. It had some amazing, amazing lush epic parts and then just that end sequence of Don’t Look Under the Bed, and then it was just bad. Although I did love that movie, but it didn’t work here. XD (it was so weird though)

      But I do agree. That’s what is the spine of the story!!

      Liked by 1 person

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