I think this will be one of those books that stays with me for a long time. I didn't want it to end, but I needed to know what was going to happen. Normally, I'm not really big on the whole magical world in reality/urban fantasy thing, but Albert does a great job and really pulls it off.

Hello everyone!

I am back with a review of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert as part of the blog tour put on by Raincoast Books. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Raincoast Books for providing me with an e-ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Before I get into my review, I was able to ask Melissa a question about the book, and of course, I had to ask about the fairy tales!

Q: How did you come up with the idea of the Hinterland fairy tales? Do you have any plans on releasing the fairy tales as their own book? I kept wanting to look up the stories and get in on the book lover fandom! 

A: I love that you wanted the tales to be real! I always feel that way when I read a book about a book. I came up with the titles of the fairy tales first, choosing the kind of phrases that would tempt and intrigue me if I read them in a Table of Contents. It was so fun and such an interesting writing challenge to start off with those kernels and blow them out into full-length stories. 

And yes, the fairy tale book is going to be a real thing! Tales from the Hinterland, by Althea Proserpine (with help from me), is slated to be released in 2020. Hopefully there will be no casualties this time…

Eep! I am so excited to hear that we will be getting to read the fairy tales! Alright, now, onto my reive!

The story follows Alice, and her mother, Ella. They've been on the road as long as Alice can remember, jumping from couch to studio apartment, because if they stay too long in one place, the bad luck finds them. People associated with them get hurt. Ella believes that the bad luck is because of her mother, Althea, reclusive author of a collection of dark fairy tales that has accrued a cult-like following with fanatic followers.

Alice has never met her grandmother and when news of her death reaches them, Ella believes they are finally free. But soon Ella goes missing, apparently taken by someone from the Hinterland, the fairy-tale world Althea wrote about. Armed with determination and Finch, a boy who claims to know all there is to know about the Hinterland, Alice sets off on a mission to find her mother. But things are not all that they seem and Alice soon finds out that she is a part of a story much larger than herself.

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much, especially at first, was because it didn't seem much like an urban fantasy. I would say the first two-thirds were just (fairly) normal city-living, setting the stage for the last part, where more of the fantasy elements come in. This story was also really unique and quite original. I've never read anything like it before.

I also really, really loved the book themes throughout the novel. Both Alice and Finch are book lovers and there were parts where Alice would talk about going to a bookstore or just doing bookish things like that. The portrayal of the feelings of trying to track down one of the few remaining copies of Althea's book was really fun as well. There were fan theories and just so much talking about books and stories - I just really enjoyed it! It made me want to start Googling to see if I could find a copy, even though it's a fictional book!

I was surprised to see this book was only a standalone. The story wraps up nicely in the end, but I wasn't sure Albert was going to finish telling the story by then. Nothing felt too rushed, but I just remember looking and seeing that there were only 50 pages left and feeling like there was so much left to address.

I think that the magical elements were fairly well explained, I was able to follow the ideas for the most part. I will say that I wish there was a copy of the fiction book, either as part of this or with better integration in the story, as like a chapter header or something. We get a retelling of a couple of the more relevant stories but I just wish I was able to read them, not only for my own interest but also because they were such a big part of the book but left fairly unknown. I do really appreciate that this is sort of a fairy tale retelling, but not based off a fairy tale anyone would know I think sometimes I spend so much time comparing a retelling to the original that I forget to enjoy the story. There was no worry of that here.

Overall, a really fascinating read, highly recommend! And don't forget to check out the other tour stops and read some more reviews and Q&As!