The Hazel Wood Review

Here we go to another world, another world, another world. Here we go to another world, one of fantasy.

Lol, I don’t know. I was trying to make a song in tune to “do you know the muffin man.” Either way lets dive in before I make you all run away and never want to read another review again.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

That being said… Spoilers ahead.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Synopsis From The Book

Cover from

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.

Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

This is actually the Target Book Club edition (I got this second hand) so there is a short story at the end that I will review too. I’ve heard good things about this book, while knowing little to nothing about it. It has been on my list for a whole (because the cover is beautiful). I have a bit of excitement and a bit of resentment because I’m reading this after We Rule the Night, which captivated me. I hope the left over love for that book doesn’t spoil this one.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

This was a good book, and a good mix of stories and nonstories. It was far more fantastic, with a bending sense of the worlds than some books I read but it reminded me a lot of Inkspell. This is not necessarily a bad thing, rather it is great because the two are very different however it did remind me. I loved the idea of The Hazel Wood. The fact that I knew that Alice was in fact her story counterpart from early on did not deter me. Instead it drew me in further when the mayhem broke out. I love the idea of dark fairytales.

Plot Overview:

Alice and her mother Ella have been moving about in life for all 16 of Alice’s years until her grandmother dies and her mother decides to settle down. They’ve been on the run from her famous grandmother and her grandmother’s fans who have turned out to be fanatics. One of them even claimed to be her father and kidnapped her as a child. With her grandmother dead, a normal life can begin.

Alice ends up at a rich kid school where she meets a boy, Finch, who has read her grandmother’s stories (even when Alice has not). When her mother goes missing, it is he that she turns to for help. Together they learn what it means for Hitherland to be real, and the only clue they have for getting Alice’s mother back is to go to the Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s mysterious estate.

While on the travels, they are chased by the characters of the Hitherland stories, and Alice is separated from Finch to be brought to the truth that she is one of the characters of the world, kidnapped by her mother as a baby (and ultimately given a better life than what her story would have given her). She is a Story, a character of a story of Hitherland, and the only way to get her mother and to get home is to break her story.

Alice is able to successively break her story with the help of Finch, and the man who once kidnapped her (who in some ways is her father, as he did love her mother. But they are not actually related) and return to her mother. The Hitherland stories now face a revolution to break their stories of horror, but Alice does not care much. She got what she wanted.

What I Liked:

The Fairy Tales; I absolutely adore dark fairytales and I think this is why I love this book so much outside of the whimsical nature of them as well as the mayhem their stories are. Dark fairytales, that have no true happy endings, make my heart ache but are brilliant to read. Just hearing about the few stories we got has made me fall in love with them (and at the time of writing this part, I have not read “Ilsa Waits”). At the end of this book in the Author’s Notes, Melissa Albert speaks on how she will return to the stories and I can not wait.

Alice; I liked her story, the life she has lived, and the way she has changed from her book counterpart. I am interested in her princess counterpart as much as I’m interested in her. However I’m also drawn to ice princesses, and demon like characters. So Alice was just my cup of tea.

Finch; A boy who likes to disappear into fairytales? I liked this kid and the rough life he has lived. He does betray Alice for the stories, and he almost dies for them. Still, I can’t blame him for picking fairytale over real life.

Secondary Characters; All the other characters who were described were few, and their motivations were as filled as they could be about a book about a Story. Ella in particular has my heart because I understand her wanting to save the children of story book tragedies.

Plot Progression; I like how we get a mix of flashbacks involved in the mainline. It makes going to Hitherland and the other worlds easy to fall into. It also keeps the plot moving, when it does not feel like much is going on. Half of this book is in the real world, half of it is in Hitherland, and it felt wonderfully filled in both parts.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

I need all the Hitherland Fairytales. Point blank I need this dark tales.

Time Taken To Read

1hr 50min

Rating: 4/5

Notable Quotes:

“The boy has other worlds to explore. We’re not always born to the right one, are we.” – Janet to Alice pg 341

Short Story: Ilsa Waits

Time Taken To Read



What a great fairytale. Moral: Don’t go chasing death, you don’t know what you might lose. I like how we have a girl who is cursed by Death and ultimately can never die. What a story. I need the other fairytales from the Tales From Hitherland.

2 thoughts on “The Hazel Wood Review

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