Book: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Genre: YA fantasy
Who should read this book: 12 year olds maybe? People that think “bread dough skin” is a good descriptor…
Let me start by saying, if I wasn’t doing this book as a buddy read, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. And there were two extra little fairy tales in the back of my copy of the book that I didn’t bother reading. I like to give YA the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the fact that I am 32 and the book is written for people half my age. And I enjoy reading YA occasionally because they are usually easier reads and the story is easy to follow. It’s like a nice break from intense thrillers and emotional fiction. But this one was just not good.
Plot – 1/2: The story follows Alice Prosperine a teenager that lives with her mother and is in a constant state of flux. Her mother Ella and her never stay in one place too long, because the bad luck they apparently have catches up to them and they must move on. Alice’s grandmother Althea Prosperine was an author that wrote a book of fairytales that were very popular and then suddenly all the copies of the book were rounded up and disappeared. Throughout Alice’s life she has never met her grandmother but she has heard of her many times. She is even kidnapped as a young girl by someone that wants to take her to see Althea. Ella and Alice learn that Althea has died and then suddenly Ella is kidnapped and Alice discovers that the people that took her are from ‘The Hinterland’, the setting of Althea’s fairytale book. Alice finds a friend that has read the book and he helps her to get to The Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate, where she thinks Ella is being held. Along their route they run into many strange people from The Hinterland that cause trouble.
The plot is sort of interesting in that it seems like the characters from the fairytale book are coming to life and causing problems in the real world. This is what made me pick up the book in the first place, I like fairytales. But the book isn’t about fairy tales at all, it’s about a stupid girl trying to find her kidnapped mother. It wasn’t what I expected at all. The plot also goes from nothing happening at all to a whole bunch of crazy shit happening in like two pages. It was such a drastic shift, I was struggling to keep up and understand what was happening.
Magic – 1/2: When rating a fantasy book, I like to rate the magic of the book. The magic in this book was just weird, it didn’t make me feel anything except confused. It was partially the fault of the writing which I will get to that made it hard to understand what exactly was happening. But also the magic just wasn’t creative. Magic is supposed to be beautiful, whether it’s good or bad magic, it should still catch you by surprise and make you wonder at the possibility. There was none of that feeling in this book for me.
Hook – 2/2: Okay so I’ve just described how awful the plot was for me but the hook was good. It was like the author started out well and then the plot just got too out of control. Leading up to the kidnapping of Ella, I was intrigued. I was surprised that there were no fairytales yet, but the mystery book written by her grandmother, the secretive way Ella refused to talk about Althea, and the strange man who kidnaps Alice when she is young were all very intriguing to me… and then it tanked.
Feel – 1/2: I wanted to like this book. The teaser on the back cover made me think fairytale gone wrong and I was interested. But this wasn’t a fairytale and the feel I had throughout the book was just annoyance and confusion. Annoyance at the way the characters were acting and confusion from the ridiculous writing style. This gets one point because it started out well, the hook made me feel like I should keep reading.
Writing – 0/2: This is a horrible feeling for me because I know the author certainly put a lot of hard work into writing this book but I just can’t give it any points for writing. The style was so hard for me to read. Everything was described in the strangest way. I couldn’t get past the descriptors and metaphors to actually engage in the story and when I tried the story was too weird. Some examples of the descriptions: “bread dough skin” describing the skin of an old woman, “my mouth tasted like dead coffee” I think she meant to say stale?, “filled me to the knuckles with starlight” when describing her freezing in terror.
I honestly was reading these sentences and just getting so distracted by them. I was reading them to my husband and we would laugh and try to decipher the meaning. It took me right out of the story and they happened on every page.
Overall this book was not great in my opinion, I’m sure there are people out there that would enjoy it and maybe even like the way it’s written but it was not for me.