The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book ended up not really being what I was expecting it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but it fell a little short of my expectations.
I went into this book only knowing that it is about dark and twisted fairytales, so I was not really expecting it when it opened up in our world and was mostly based in New York City. I was okay with it, after all, I didn’t really know a whole lot about the story to begin with. It didn’t really read like a fantasy to me, more like magical realism, which as a whole isn’t for me.
The writing style was okay, but at times it was just far too flowery for my tastes. I thought the characters were okay, but Alice definitely had some issues. She has a tendency to ramble on about her anger issues and how she can never quite get over them, but never really gives us any back story as to why she is so angry. At one point, she becomes so angry and ashamed at herself that she drives a car with her and another character off the road and almost crashes it. I was a little put off at that point, but kept reading because the book really intrigued me. Alice really became a person that I did not like when she made a comment to Finch after he calls her out, telling him to “go get a liberal arts degree”. You know how in books they say that someone reared back as if slapped? Now I know what that means because I actually did that when I read that line. I get that the author was trying to really get the point across that Alice has anger issues, (which are kind of explained when we find out who Alice is) but I feel like it could’ve been done a little bit better.
I had really high hopes that I would love Finch, he doesn’t want to grow up to be in his father’s ultra powerful/wealthy shoes because he doesn’t want to be a jerk to everyone like his father. He doesn’t act like a typical wealthy snob, which was really refreshing. My issues with his character were that as one of the only black character, it is constantly commented on how unattractive he is and how oddly he dresses, when attractiveness doesn’t really play a factor into any of the other characters. He also doesn’t really feel like he was meant to have a huge part in the novel, but just kinda ended up there. His story is never fleshed out, and when we reach the Hinterlands, his story just kinda falls apart.
That brings me to my next issue. When the setting moves to the Hinterland, it felt really rushed, and there was absolutely no world building going on, Alice just rushed through to complete her tasks and then that was it. There was no detail, there wasn’t even a lot of background of the story that Alice has to go through. I was really disappointed by that, which probably stems from my love of epic fantasy with its amazing world building.
However, all that said I did really enjoy the two fairytales that we got in the book, and I definitely think those were the best things about this book. I wish that we had gotten all of the fairytales, I would’ve much preferred reading them.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed by this book and I wanted so much more from it. It wasn’t fleshed out well enough for me to feel invested in the world and the characters. I’m actually kind of surprised that this is the first book in a series, because the way it ended felt like all the loose ends were wrapped up.
Honestly I think that if I didn’t have the special signed owlcrate edition of this book, I would be donating it or giving it away. I just don’t think this book was for me, and I think that if I were to recommend it to anyone, it would be to someone who enjoys magical realism, because I feel like it aligns more towards that than the standard fantasy novel.
Pingback: 10 Worst Books of 2018 – Melting Pages