Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Blog Tour: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - Review and Author Q&A

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Publishing Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 368
Young Adult Fantasy / Dark Fairy Tale

The Premise from the Publisher: "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" (Flatiron Books).

My overall thoughts and review: It's been such a fun experience diving into this book because I actually have been teaching a fairy tale module in my class. I love stories that focus on a more dark, sinister, twisty, and creepy component of fairy tales, harking back to the likes of the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. The premise of the story is incredibly interesting because Alice and her mother Ella have always found themselves with 'bad luck' and always on the move, until they actually settle down with Ella marrying. However, things get complicated one day when Alice comes home to find that her mother is missing and stolen away from people from the Hinterland, which is a setting of her grandmother's fairy tales. Her grandmother has been estranged her whole life and Alice only really knows her from the fame she received from this book of fairy tales she wrote. She begins to make the journey to the Hazel Wood and Hinterland to save her mom. She also brings along a classmate Ellery Finch along the way, who is a super fan. There was a moment in the text when she mentions not trusting fans because of other ulterior motives and she also drops little lessons she learned from fairy tales along the way which I really enjoyed seeing. It was fast paced, quite dark, and lots of twists and turns. Alice is also a frustrating character at times but I really loved the devotion and love she has for her mother. I also liked learning of the fairy tales as we moved forward in the text. The stories reminded me of Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, the juxtaposition of beautiful and uncomfortable at the same time. I don't want to say too much because one simple breadcrumb can spoil things, but the book definitely surprised me in many ways. Just when you think you have it figured out, Albert pulls the rug out from beneath you. If you like dark fairy tale fantasy, this is definitely the read for you!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Question and Answer:
Q: What was your favorite scene in the book to write and why? 
I don’t think it’s too spoilery to reveal here that Alice does make it to the Hazel Wood, despite all the warnings to stay away—and I loved writing the sequence that takes place inside Althea’s isolated estate. I like to write in order and I never have luck planning too far ahead, so I didn’t know what Alice would find when she arrived at the Hazel Wood. Once we got there, it all fell into place (or spun out of control?), and I had a blast writing it out. I don’t want to say too much, just that I really enjoy writing the weird stuff. It’s what I love to read, too—I guess I just have a type.

Don't forget to swing by other tops of the blog tour to check out more content from other book bloggers and more Q&As with Melissa. Many thanks to Melissa for stopping by today! 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.