The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this a few months ago and think of it often. Aside from a personal fascination for Grimms-style, twisted fairy tales, there is something to truly resonant about this book that lingers long after you’ve put it down and moved on to the rest of your TBR stack. It’s not a master work of fiction, it has its definite flaws. But the visceral, spooky prose and very tangible descriptions captivate from the first page and draw you into a rapid paced story that culminates in a plot twist I honestly did not see coming. My major complaint is that Alice doesn’t reach the Hazel Wood until the last quarter of the book, so the ending feels rushed. But the poignant storytelling and unique urban-fantasy approach (reminiscent in many ways of The Magicians, which the author cites as partial inspiration) is addictive. There are a lot of books that take me weeks or even months to finish, even when I enjoy them. I read this one in a few days. The quick pace and indulgent melodrama makes for a theatrical, unsettling story with a protagonist who breaks the trope of the “chosen one” in the absolute best of ways. If you’re a fan of traditional fairy tales, The Magicians, and creepy, vibrant, atmospheric writing, this one is for you.

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