The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When did fairy tales become this creepy? The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert kept me on the edge while I would read it past midnight. The concept of this book is innovative – stories and their power to infuse into real-life situations creating chaos. In this case, the lives of people. And luck. And reality.

The book begins by introducing Althea Proserpine, a wealthy and famed writer who in mysterious circumstances has disappeared to live in isolation. Her daughter, Ella and her granddaughter Alice pare vagabonds because bad luck follows anywhere they go. The most interesting part of this book is about a book full of fairy tales (read dark tales). Althea Proserpine wrote Tales from the Hinterland before she took refuge in her grand estate named The Hazel Wood. Now imagine, you write stories that are filled with death, spooky accidents and bad luck creatures with terrible adventures – and they become real. This is what keeps happening in the book.

There are no lessons in it. There’s just this harsh, horrible world touched with beautiful magic, where shitty things happen. And they don’t happen for a reason, or in threes, or in a way that looks like justice. They’re set in a place that has no rules and doesn’t want any. And the author’s voice – your grandmother’s voice – is perfectly pitiless. She’s like a war reporter who doesn’t give a fuck.


Alice does not understand why bad luck continuously follows them like a shadow. Nor does her mother ever talk about her grandmother and her books. But everything changes when Ella goes missing one day and Alice is forced to travel into a far and dangerous world to find the truth. She does not do it alone though. Her super rich so-called friend and partner in her journey is Ellery Finch. A boy of her age, who has read Tales from the Hinterland, is the only person in the book who knows all the stories written in it. Manuscripts of the book notoriously are destroyed or the traces are erased from all possible sources making it difficult for Alice to crack the clues on her own. Finch is the only person she could rely on for the stories and his theories about strange things that she sees which seem to coincide with the characters in the book.

You might think it’s strange, but you get used to those karmic moments in the book business. Books want to be read, and by the right people. There’s nothing surprising in it, not to me.

William Perks

The Hazel Wood definitely kept me entertained. Moreover, I hope Melissa writes an actual Tales from the Hinterland without any bad luck following me. The ending does get a bit complex but when there are so many layers intersecting through stories, you can’t help but start wondering – what happens if stories turn into people and not vice versa? I would recommend reading this book if you want a break from cliché fairy tales with happy endings.

When in doubt, the answer is always Death. With a capital D.

Ellery Finch

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A closet writer with a knack for adding vivid, witty & personal details. I love coffee, books and food. Highly appreciate lo-fi music and illustrations. Borderline obsessed with stationery, productivity and organisation tools. Always in search of adventures & stories by travelling or being buried in books. Current Status ↠ Growing plants in my room. Life Goals ↠ Spark conversations, ideas & inspiration with a cup of mild roasted black coffee.

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