Bullet Point-Review: The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert

Happy Friday, friends! I’m back today with another bullet-point review of a book that’s been quite popular and talked-about around the blogosphere lately…

The book

Melissa Albert, The Hazel Wood, Published by Penguin, February 8th, 2018.

goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5Seventeen-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.

I ENJOYED…

💭

  • I found the writing and Melissa Albert’s storytelling captivating. I loved her writing style and felt instantly immersed into the story. The moments of tension, happiness, creepiness and everything else went right through me as I read. To be completely honest, I aim to write like her someday.
  • The Hazel Wood was very imaginative: I love how it took a little of its inspiration on fairytales, yet spinned it in its completely own way. The stories that are told within the story, of princesses and ice, murder and revenge… it felt like reading fairytales, really, if slightly creepier than the ones I am used to.
  • Unlike popular opinion, asking for there to be more of the book set in the Hinterland, a.k.a the magical place here, I was quite happy with the rhythm of the story somehow? I liked how everything set up slowly, how they went onto a quest, how the real world gradually changed around them as weirdness arose. That was really, really cool to read.
  • I really liked the characters, especially Alice, our main character, and Finch. Alice was complex and hard to fall in love with, yet I rooted for her and wanted just as badly as she did to find out the truth about her family and who she was. Finch was such a precious character, I fell in love with him right on the first page and wanted to hug him at all times.
  • I appreciated that there was no real romance here. Where, in your usual fantasy book, you always find a hint of romance and kisses here and there, here… well, there just was an interesting and slow developing FRIENDSHIP I really appreciated. Did I want more? Yes, because I am like that. But I also appreciated that it stayed a great friendship.
  • I also really loved the fact that this book was so family-centered, with the strong relationship between Alice and her mother, Ella. They had such a strong bond and I loved Alice’s determination and love for her mother showing all through the story.

I HAD A HARD TIME WITH…

💭

  • Unlike popular opinion again (or, from what I have seen and heard), I kind of found myself disconnecting a bit more from the story as it went on in the Hinterland, a.k.a the fantasy world in this story. Somehow, the beginning, the quest, the mystery, the real world becoming weird and everything, had me REALLY hooked. The last third of the story, set in the real Hinterland, found myself a bit… lost, somehow? Maybe that’s because there was so little in the actual book developed in the Hinterland, I didn’t quite have time to get accustomed to its rules and strange characters.
  • I wanted to get to know Alice’s mother maybe a bit more. I feel like we got a great mother-daughter relationship, yet I missed some… I don’t know, bonding moments, real ones, really showing Ella off a little bit?
  • I was expecting a bit of a mind-blowing ending that I did not get, somehow. It was a good ending and wrapped things up nicely and left me with no questions, yet… I don’t know, I wanted fireworks and I just had a beautiful sunset.

OVERALL

The Hazel Wood was a really great debut and I understand the blogosphere’s frenzy about it all. I was captivated by the story and its characters, by the imaginative world-building and relationships. It missed a little something for it to be a mind-blowing read, but I would still recommend it to the ones that like their fairytales dark and mesmerizing.

Final rating: 4 drops!

Thank you to Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my opinion on this.

Trigger warnings: a bit of graphic violence and macabre.

Did you read The Hazel Wood? Do you want to read it?

Are you a fan of fairytales in stories, or fairytailes retellings? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in comments!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

90 thoughts on “Bullet Point-Review: The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert

  1. I really like this style of reviewing books! Sometimes it’s a lot easier to get down my thoughts in bullet points rather than writing out an entire review in fluid paragraphs. I’ve been a little hesitant about reading this book because of the major hype surrounding it, but it’s encouraging to hear that you enjoyed it nevertheless! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing review Marie. And guess what, I got accepted for this just yesterday 🙈😜 I am glad you liked it. I kind of like the mother-daughter relationships in stories and this seems to be done well on that part. I hope I can review it before 8th 😂 Let’s see.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am SO eager to finally find out what all the fuss is about with the author’s writing style and the setting! I need some glorious fantasy in my life, please. ❤ (TBH I am 5% turned off by the fact that there isn't any romance–of course, it's GREAT since there isn't a lot of books like that in YA, but it's just a personal preference b/c I'm such a hopeless romantic.) BUT hopefully the awesome mother-daughter relationship makes up for this little pet peeve of mine. ❤ Awesome review, Marie! So glad you loved this!

    – Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH I am a bit of a hopeless romantic as well, haha, I love a great romance in a book, but it’s great to read some books without romance. I love how the two characters slowly grew closer to each other and became friends and everything else, though,that was great 🙂
      I hope you will be able to read that one soon and will love it, Aimee! Thank you so much for your comment ❤ ❤

      Like

  4. I’ve been hearing so much buzz about this book over the past few weeks and I’m really excited to read it (whether or not that will actually happen soon is a mystery)! Fantasy is my JAM and when there’s a great friendship with no romance, count me in! I feel like there’s so much pressure to put romance in every book possible because it makes the perfect subplot but honestly, it gets a little old and predictable sometimes. Lovely review, Marie!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, I love a good romance, but… it gets a bit predictable sometimes and great friendships are amazing just as well 😀
      I hope you will be able to read that one soon and will love it, Laura! 😀
      Thank you so much for your comment! ❤ ❤

      Like

    1. I think… it’s my contemporary-lover-side coming out here? I love contemporaries and love magical realism as well, so the fact that most of the setting was a contemporary with a lot of mystery and hints coming on etc, before she actually got to the real fantasy world, is something that REALLY appealed to me. I know some big fantasy readers might get a bit more frustrated though, haha :/
      I can’t wait for you to read it! I hope you’ll love it 😀

      Like

  5. I have yet to read this book but have been wanting to read it ever since I saw the cover for it a few months ago. Is it bad that I didn’t know anything about it until I read this review?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH no, it’s not bad at all! I think it’s great that you didn’t see all the hype for this title and / or the mixed reviews. At least you can have your own opinion of it once you get into it, without feeling too influenced by others 🙂
      Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you’ll enjoy that one whenever you get to it 🙂

      Like

  6. This sounds so good! I usually don’t get excited about books and authors I’m not familiar with, but Goodreads is slowly changing my mind. 😜 I saw this and thought it looked interesting, but now it sounds amazing! I wonder if I’ll like the fantasy world in it. I usually do in books like that.
    Fairy tales are awesome! I love reading and writing them, especially retellings, which is funny because they were super popular last year but I didn’t actually read any…#BookwormFail

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay, this makes me so happy! Goodreads is the devil, it will make you want to read ALL the books haha. Book bloggers tend to do that as well 😛
      I hope you will love that one, then! I agree, retellings are incredible, I love these so much 🙂 Thank you for your sweet comment! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review for this book Marie, and I am so glad you enjoyed this one as well. 🙂 I love fantasy books and one of the parts of this one I looked forwards to was the Hinterlands and the magical setting so I was a little disappointed by how little time we spent there but I’m glad that was actually something that was more positive for you. Also yes I loved that there was less of a focus on the romance and more on the family relationships. Basically this is what I want to see more in fantasy books, more incredibly written family dynamics. I mean, they weren’t a perfect family but they were well-written, well-developed and the relationship Alice had with her mother, and her grandmother in a way, felt so real.
    Again great review, I did really enjoy this book overall and I can’t wait for the next one Melissa Albert writes. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! Yeah I understand your frustration about that, if I loved fantasy to pieces, I would have been a bit annoyed that not more of the book was set in the Hinterland. I think there will be a sequel for this book, though? Or did I dream it?? Maybe there will be more fantasy there? 🙂
      Thank you! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad – but also sorry! that you felt the same way. Something was missing, or maybe we didn’t have enough time in the Hinterland to get accustomed to it? :/
      Thank you so much for your comment! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve seen this one everywhere and really want to read it! It sounds like it might be an enjoyable read even with the few issues you’ve had with it. Great review, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing review, Marie!! I’m really interested in seeing everyone’s reviews for this one because I’ve heard that the writing style/voice is really captivating & engaging, but then I heard some problematic things about Alice being abusive(?) and something about a token POC character?? I have no idea, but now it’s drastically dropped down my TBR. I’m so glad you loved it tho! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you so much, May!! ❤ YES, the writing style was super engaging and captivating for me, I loved it.
      I have heard about these things only after writing my full review, yeah, but only about Alice being abusive, I hadn't heard about the token POC character?? I didn't pay enough attention, ugh, thank you for mentioning it!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have this one next on my list of books and I’m looking forward to it a lot. I can be super picky when it comes to fairytale retellings but this one seems (to me at least) quite loose as far as the blurb goes.

    It’s a little sad to see that you wanted more in the mother-daughter relationship though. Particularly since it seems a key thing to the story line.

    Loved the review, it’s got me keen to get into this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, it was quite a loose retelling, from what I could tell 🙂
      I loved the mother-daughter relationship, but I found that it was more told than shown, we got flashbacks and everything but not really a lot of in the moment with both of them.

      I hope you’ll enjoy it! Thank you so much for your sweet comment ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great review Marie!! I actually quite agree with you… I enjoyed the way the story was in the city… It felt like magical realism to me! I could have ended the book when she got through to her grandmother’s estate and not even entered the Hinterland until book 2! I think that would have been a great genre twist to the series… going from magical realism or paranormal to fantasy! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OHHH YES that would have been fantastic, and would have avoided that rush with the whole Hinterland world-building, for sure. I’m curious to see what will happen in book two! 🙂
      thank you, Dani! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great review Marie! I think, like you, that I enjoyed the parts of the book set in the real world more. Everything was just so mysterious, and I love that the truth was revealed to us gradually. It was so addictive not knowing all the answers, and as such was less addictive once we did know the answers. I would have liked the section set in the Hinterland to have been longer, but I agree with you that I had no problem with the pace of the beginning, it was one of my favourite things about the book.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I find that a lot with mysterious stories! I’m quite glad in a way that the answers came so far into the book – I hate it when things are revealed too early and it kills all of the mystery and intrigue,

        Like

  13. Great Review, Marie 🌸
    I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I’ve been kinda on the fence about read it as Fantasy isn’t really my go to genre. Your review however peaked my interest; I love that it takes inspiration from various fairytales and that is was very family centered. Definitely more interested in picking this up now xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh this makes me so happy 🙂 I hope you’ll give it a shot, I liked that it wasn’t entirely fantasy right away, but really rooted in a real, contemporary world at first. I think you could enjoy that one 🙂
      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I heard such good things about this on the blogosphere as well. I am glad you enjoyed it so much. I am always a sucker for fairytale inspired stuff, but I also get the points you had a hard time with. Whenever I think of an ending being neat but not mindblowing, my brain goes to the Firebird series. Some books make us expect … more? That’s really too bad :/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. 1) I love the bullet point style review! I feel like it is so much easier to read when a review is laid out this way. I typically do mini-reviews this way for books I am not going to do a full review on.

    2) This book seems to be pretty hit or miss (much like Caraval was last year). This is actually the first positive review I’ve read for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you, Amanda, so happy you liked it! It is fun to write this way as well 🙂
      I hope that, despite the negative reviews, you will want to pick up that one sometime, it was really entertaining 🙂
      Thank you so much for your comment!! ❤

      Like

  16. This book is so hyped yet somehow I haven’t seen any review for it?? so I really appreciated this. I want to read this one day, because lyrical writing is always excellent. This sounds kinda like Holly Black, who I quite like, and really interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh really? Well I’m glad I’m the first review you see, ahah. I have read some mixed reviews about this lately, but I really enjoyed the ride. I think you could enjoy it! 🙂
      Thank you so much, Shanti! ❤ ❤

      Like

  17. I am a HUGE fan of retellings and pretty much have no will power against them. All the retellings all the time 😀 I have been seeing this one around more and more and it seems like for the most part people are really enjoying it! I am looking forward to giving this one a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YAY that’s so great! Do you have any favorite retelling recommendations for me? I have been reading a couple of these lately and I found out that I enjoy them SO much! 😀
      I hope you will get to read The Hazel Wood soon and that you will love it 🙂 thank you!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s always the Lunar Chronicles which I love but I feel like you’ll probably have had those recommended to you because they are so popular! The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is great, as is Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I haven’t read this one yet and I’ve been seeing mixed reviews since it was released, but it actually sounds like something I might enjoy. So, I’ll probably check it out soon! I’m sorry that you disconnected with the book for a bit, that’s the worst, but I had this happen to me too (especially with fantasy worlds, sometimes I just can’t seem to get used to the new world).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there was a little bit of that, I had a hard time getting used to the new world and it happened so quickly, I didn’ thave time to connect with it all properly.
      I hope you will read this one someday and that you will love it though! 😀
      Thank you so much ❤ ❤

      Like

  19. This one’s on my most anticipated reads because dark fairy tales and a gorgeous cover (yes I am guilty of judging by the cover but LOOK IT’S GORGEOUS). And oooOoOo I would love a fantasy book with no romance!! Those are kinda rare.

    (And I love your bullet point style of reviewing it’s so easy and fun to follow!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES dark fairy tales and YES that cover is gorgeous, can’t really blame you here, I totally first wanted to read the synopsis of this because the cover drew me it. It looks SO good.
      NO romance, yes!! It was so refreshing. I hope you’ll be able to read it soon and that you will enjoy it! ❤
      Thank you so, so much! I'm so happy you enjoyed it 😀 x

      Like

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