Friday, April 6, 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Alice and her mother have moved every few months, usually after someone creepy shows up or something odd occurs.  Although they don't talk about it much, Alice knows that some of these weird things relate to her grandmother who authored a book of dark fairy tales with a cultish fallowing.  The one time Alice got her hands on a copy of Tales of the Hinterland, her mother snatched it away from her with unusually sharp words.  When they get word that her grandmother has died, Alice's mother believes their lives will change but things take a turn for the worse when she is kidnapped by people who say they are from the Hinterland.  With the help of one of her grandmother's fans, Alice has to find her way to her grandmother's secret home, the Hazel Wood, and possibly enter a Story herself.

I was loving this story of Alice's weird family full of dark secrets and even darker fairy tales.  The strange people and animals who lingered on the edges of reality had me wrapped around their fingers and talons as I waited to see how our world intersected with the realm of fairy tales.  Plus, I love fairy tales and I couldn't wait to hear more of the stories contained in this secret book!  Every time Finch would retell one to Alice I was turning pages faster than ever.  That was my experience until about 50% in which is when Alice entered the Hazel Wood.  Or maybe she entered the Halfway Wood.  Or perhaps it was the Hinterlands.  I don't know where the fuck she was or what happened there for most of the rest of the book.  I understand the bones of the book - Hinterland is real, grandma opened some sort of portal, Alice shouldn't be where she is, and what she needs to do to escape.  But the description of everything surrounding those basic plot points is too trippy and not written clearly enough for me to become absorbed in what's happening.  As I hinted at, I wasn't even sure of the boundaries between the three spheres.  Characters were referred to as being "Hinterland" so I guess that's more of a designation rather than a place???  A very disappointing ending to a promising start for me.

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