Series: The Hazel Wood (book #1)
Rating: 3.5 stars
“The Hinterland didn’t tell nice tales.”
The Hazel Wood is the first installment of an apparent duology (you can never be too sure these days), and it follows seventeen-year-old Alice as she and her mother live life on the run from “the bad luck”. After they learn about her grandmother’s death – Althea Proserpine, the obscurely famous author of the dark Tales From The Hinterland – Alice‘s mother seems to believe they won’t have to run anymore. But soon enough, the ill-tempered girl has an unpleasant surprise and realizes her problems might have something to do with The Hazel Wood – her grandmother’s mysterious estate – and that there’s more to Althea‘s twisted tales than just creepy stories.
Well, me and this book were together for quite a while. I started reading it in February, but only truly finished it in August. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound good, but I actually enjoyed The Hazel Wood. A lot of the time it took me to read it had to do with college, many reading slumps, reading many books at the same time, ocasional fear of picking it up at night when things got too creepy, and even a “blessing”
curse from the God of Bizarre Misprints (halfway through the book I realized my copy was missing several chunks of the story and had a bunch of blank pages instead) which iniciated another entire saga of me trying to exchange the book on the website that I had bought it for a new copy. Let me tell you, exchanging an imported book is no fun and it takes forever. Then I thought the whole thing was just getting ridiculous at that point so I took a stand and picked up the audiobook in order to finish it at last. Looks like the “bad luck” wasn’t following just Alice around, after all.
The Hazel Wood starts slow, and drags a little while it introduces the main character and sets its atmosphere. I was aware of that before-handed, which helped me not to get really annoyed, but it did take me some patience to get past the first 100 pages. The book really picks up from the middle on, and I particularly enjoyed the second half more. It wasn’t perfect, but I feel like it really made it worth my time. I think what fascinated me the most about it though was the Tales from the Hinterland. Alice has never read her grandmother’s book, but she learns more and more about it throughout the narrative, so we get a good glimpse of these dark stories. They’re creepy, creative, and definitely not the “happily ever after” kind of tales.
“Look until the leaves turn red
Sew the worlds up with thread
If your journey’s left undone
Fear the rising of the sun.”
Concerning characters, I must warn you that Alice isn’t much of a sympathetic one. She has a bad temper, she is kind of rude to people, and doesn’t get along with others. I’d say the strength of her character is her relationship with her mother, but even that’s a rocky one. This book was in first person, so we were in this girl’s head the whole time, and I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not, since her personality was sort of off-putting. You do get to understand why she is like this later on, but as you’re reading the book unaware, this makes it difficult for you to connect with the protagonist, which could hinder the experience. Also, if you’re looking for romance, you might want to look somewhere else. That’s all I’m going to say. But you know, I feel like the mystery atmosphere is compelling enough to keep you going. At least it was for me, and I’m glad I did go all the way through.
Overall, I’d say this book is worth reading, but be aware of these things so you know where to place your expectations.
As I mentioned before, The Hazel Wood will have a sequel, which intrigues me because this book was fairly self-contained and could easily work as a standalone. I have no idea what will be explored in the next installment – the first one’s arc is pretty much completed -, but I intend to read it anyways, now that I have a better grasp of the world and find it quite interesting. The bit of news that truly excite me though, is not the actual sequel, but the sequel of the sequel. Apparently, there will be a #2.5 book called Tales from the Hinterland, which I can only assume will tell first-hand… well, the actual tales from the Hinterland. Those stories were my favorite part, so you can bet I’m highly anticipating this. It’s a shame it’s only set to come out in 2020, so ridiculously far away ugh. How we readers even manage to wait so damn long for books we’re excited about is beyond me.
Oh and The Hazel Wood has been optioned for film.
So have you read this book? If not, does it interest you? Let me know in the comments. 😀