The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert I've learned my lesson. No more cover buys and I should read some spoiler-free reviews of the book first. I bought this mostly because it looks beautiful. The cover is lovely and so are the illustrations in the chapter headings. Unfortunately, the book itself was a huge disappointment.

It's never a good sign when while you're reading all you can think of is "I should have bought something else." Yet, that's exactly how I felt about this book. There's a lot of YA Fantasy books out there and I'm kicking myself for choosing something which reminds me of why I stopped reading YA in the first place. There are other books out there and I should choose wisely next time.

The worst part was that this book wasn't "I hate everything about it" bad. It was just so incredibly mediocre. It manages to take this wonderful sounding concept and make it so bland I'm having a hard time caring about what happens to the characters. I'll just list my problems with it.

Not enough fantasy elements- When a book is marketed as fantasy, I expect it to have, you know, fantasy. What fantastical elements we were shown sounds so fresh and interesting it's a shame that it only shows up in the latter half of the book and even then the execution is lacking.
Disjointed storytelling- I couldn't understand what this book was trying to pull. It was like the characters just accepted the existence of this fantasy fairy tale world without first going "Okay, that's crazy. There's no way it's true." I wasn't completely sold and I couldn't suspend my disbelief.
The actual fantasy chapters- Rarely do I feel that a book should be longer than it is. I read fantasy doorstoppers and while I love those, big books can be tedious. For this one, I thought it could really benefit from a higher page count that would allow it to really develop the characters and the fantasy world. The Hinterlands also felt like it was dark for the sake of being dark. There doesn't seem to be any explanation for why it was as dark as it was. I was so disappointed that there were so few chapters depicting the actual fantasy world and I thought that it could benefit by showing and developing it more. I'm a sucker for details and worldbuilding, okay?
The main character- Yes, Alice is kind of a terrible person. Yes, she gets called out on it. But she doesn't apologize? She doesn't acknowledge how privileged she was? She really doesn't sit well with me as a character.

The things I did like are Alice's relationship with her mother, Ella Proserpine. I loved how she was so determined to bring her mother back despite all of the odds. Despite my problems with the book, that was genuinely heartwarming and some of the best parts of the book. Her relationships with her stepsister and Finch are worth mentioning as well in how it changes and is presented. Pretty good, I think.

I also loved the two fairytale chapters presented. Now those were the actual best parts of the book. Even though I felt like the Hinterlands was dark for the sake of being dark, I'd be more than willing to buy a collection of dark fairytales from the author. I did like those since they were a very fresh and interesting take on fairy tales.

So that's it for my review of The Hazel Wood. Will I read the sequel? I don't know. It's a tentative maybe for me right now. Again, I will buy a collection of dark fairytales though.

You can also read this review on my blog: The Bookworm Daydreamer