The Hazel Wood

Melissa Albert
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Mar 21, 2018

I'm not a fan of gruesome, graphic, gory horror; however, I'm a big fan of stories that are dark. Atmospheric. Disquieting. Plumbing the depths of the human psyche. Some of those stories are creepy dark. Some of them are deliciously dark. The Hazel Wood is gritty dark.

Alice has spent her life haunted by a collection of dark fairy tales famously authored by her grandmother. Haunted, and hounded. Always on the run, in one way or another, with her rootless mother. A loving, fiercely protective mother who has always been fully open and honest about everything. Except for one topic: Alice's grandmother--whom she has never met--and the famous, hard-to-find, collectable book--which she has never read. There is a mystery at the center of Alice's life.

Until the mystery begins to materialize all around her, and running is no longer an option. The darkness has finally caught up to Alice and her mother, and Alice is learning the dark secrets they have been fleeing--whether she wants to or not. And she is learning her place in that darkness.

The magic in this story is not enchanting. The princesses are not from Disney, or even Grimm. And the fairy tales are not the ones we're accustomed to.

Then I got my hands on Althea's book. And it was perfect. There are no lessons in it. There's just this harsh, horrible world touched with beautiful magic, where s###ty 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 f###.

Alice must now face those stories to figure out who she is and determine if she can ever truly be free of them.

Tales from the Hinterland, contents:

The Door That Wasn't There

Hansa the Traveler

The Clockwork Bride

Jenny and the Night Women

The Skinned Maiden


The House Under the Stairwell

Ilsa Waits

The Sea Celler

There Mother and the Dagger

Twice-Killed Katherine

Death and the Woodwife

"Can't you just decide, then . . . to let me go?"

"What about the Hinterland makes you think I'm nice?"

Reviewed by Chris K.
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