Monday 19 November 2018

The Hazel Wood

Finished November 1
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, read by Rebecca Soler

This book is rooted in fairy tales, but not the ones that end happily ever after. Alice Prosperpine and her mother Ella have spent most of Alice's life wandering the country, never staying anywhere for very long. Bad luck seems to follow them, and when they get a sense, an intimation, or outright proof that it has neared, they move on. Alice's reclusive grandmother Althea wrote a book of fairy tales called Tales from the Hinterland years ago, that has a small but determined fan base. Alice herself has only seen the book once, and her mother removed it from her hands before she could do more than see the table of contents, and turn to the story containing her own name "Alice Three Times".
Recently, her mother received a message that her grandmother had died, and seemed to believe that the bad luck would stop. Ella married a wealthy man and they now live with him and his daughter in a luxury condo in New York City. Alice and her stepsister go to a high class private school, but Alice never feels that she fits in.
She's had issues all her life with sudden rages, and Ella has worked with her to control these using calming breathing and mindfulness techniques, but she still doesn't have it under control all the time. When another student at her school, Ellery Finch, turns out to be a mega-fan of Althea's, Alice rebuffs him, yet he remains friendly towards her. Alice has a part-time job in a local diner, and is unnerved by a strange experience that she has there one day. When her stepsister is missing from afternoon classes the following day, and the town car that regularly picks them up doesn't appear, Alice finds her own way home, despite a man from her past that appears to be trying to abduct her. But Alice arrives home to an even more disturbing scene: the condo smells horrible, like rotting things, and no one is there. She finds a note that indicates that Ella has been taken by someone from the Hinterland, which both scares and confuses her. She no longer is sure what is real and what isn't. The only person she can think of to go to is Ellery, because he knows the stories and might be able to help her.
As she and Ellery search for her mother, and make their way closer to her grandmother's estate in upstate New York, things get weirder and weirder. From Ellery, Alice learns some of the tales from the book, and encounters characters that seem to be from those tales.
I liked the main characters of Ellery and Alice, and how they developed as the story progressed. Alice's story is one she did not expect, and does not want to believe, and yet she must face it to be able to have a chance at a future she determines herself.
I loved the fairy tale elements here, dark and creepy, and yet fantastical too. There is so much going on, that I wanted to know more about. I loved it.

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