Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a 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 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.
To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began….
Disclaimer: I was provided with an ARC by Penguin India in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
“But can you really die in a story?”
So, this is the kind of book that has two extreme ends on readership – either you will love it or it will just not be your cup of tea; both are honestly fine; because as I am writing this review, I can totally understand how and where the readers could differ from each other’s opinion!
The Hazel Wood is a beautiful book with an enthralling writing style that I have rarely found in a young adult fantasy – one that had me reading this book; even when sometimes the plot had me wanting to keep the book down.
Alice and her mother Ella have been on the run for all their life; especially considering that Alice’s grandmother is a world – famous author of a collection of fairy tales that have a cult following! But now that Ella is married and their lives are a bit stable, the marriage that happened after they receive a letter saying that Alice’s grandmother has passed away!
Yet their bad luck follows them, when Alice comes home to find her mother missing and herself homeless when her stepfather throws her out of the house. Her only way to find Ells, is to find her way through the fairy tales that her grandmother had written. Problem is, she cannot find any physical or virtual copy of the book anywhere in the world – either it was that coveted; or it was that protected.
Alice, as a main character is really hard to like – and to be honest; I did not like her even till the end, but what she attained was my respect and admiration. She is flawed, gritty and has a thousand walls around herself that are not only made of steel, but also had a covering of prickles that kept anyone away!
Let’s come back to the writing though – which honestly is the best part of this book – the author does an fan – freaking – tastic job of keeping the story arc moving fluidly, and keep the interest of the readers glued to the pages at the same time.
This book though doesn’t really fit the description of a dark fairy tale; there is an underlying message of hope that is hard to ignore, which works perfectly works for me – because while I can do gritty tales; but I need a little happy dose for my cold heart! 😉
“Life never turns out how you imagine it will when you’re young. Everything is smaller than you think, or too big. It all smells like funny and fits like somebody else’s shirt.”
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .5