Last month I received the ‘Twisted Tales’ box from Fairy Loot which was a box inspired by classic fairytales. As a fan of fairytales I was excited about reading the featured book, which was The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert.
The central character is a girl named Alice, a girl who has had some unusual life experiences whose life takes an even more mysterious turn in the aftermath of her grandmother’s death. There is plenty of intrigue surrounding the late Althea Proserpine – a reclusive author who penned dark fairytales in her isolated home in the Hazel Wood. Unnerving tales which built up something of a cult following. But events transpire which lead Alice on her journey into the wood, despite the sense of unease surrounding this mysterious landscape. With the help of an acquaintance who knows her grandmother’s twisted tales in great detail, she must find her way into the Hazel Wood. Here she finds herself in the place where these stories began, to find her lost mother who is taken away in mysterious circumstances. The premise of this novel was one that really intrigued me, and I liked the idea of stories within stories so was interested to see how this would develop.
Whilst the plot did intrigue me I must admit it this book didn’t grab me in the way I hoped it would, and it took me a little longer than usual to finish reading it. Whilst this was the case there were elements of the novel that I enjoyed, such as the dark fairy tales and the atmospheric woodland setting with its feeling of unease as to what could be lurking within. I liked the lyrical writing style and how it pays homage to classic fairytales along with other areas of popular culture. There were points along the way where I wasn’t sure what was happening or where the story was going alongside the characters which added to the surreal feeling of the book! What begins as a road trip into the unknown becomes a trip into the heart of the ‘Hinterland’ in which the worlds depicted in her grandmother’s book appear to be far too real, and Alice finds herself in some unusual and frightening situations as she tries to find her way in this strange new world. I was interested to see how Alice’s journey would end, and there are a couple of surprises along the way to keep the reader guessing.
Whilst The Hazel Wood didn’t have me gripped it was a story that intrigued me with its interesting premise as we follow one girl’s journey into a dark fantasy world. With its flawed and interesting characters and a sense of foreboding throughout this is a tale that would appeal to fans of the darker side of fairytales.