Oh my WOW.
I was blown away by Melissa Albert’s debut YA novel, The Hazel Wood. So much so that I sat and sobbed a little as I held it closed and complete on my lap. Not necessarily because of how it ends (no spoilers here) but at how in awe I was and how I felt a little like it had topped up my soul.
It truly is a masterpiece, a stunning dance of lyrical prose and dark imagination.
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.
To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .
I think I’ve made it clear already that I absolutely loved this book.
It captures the love and loyalty between Alice and her Mum, Ella, so perfectly that I was rooting for them from the very start, lost in Melissa Albert’s beautiful prose.
The writing is lyrical and intelligent and yet doesn’t break stride. The action always moving forward, every word has its place. I was gripped and couldn’t look away, sitting up into the night despite being exhausted from doing the same the night before.
Alice’s travels took my mind to such vivid places – the stories, characters and creatures leaping out of the page. It was so inventive and evocative, I was lost in a haze of imagination hers and my own, reading desperately to the end.
This is definitely one I shall be reading again and has left me wanting more dark and twisted tales. I’ll be eagerly watching for more from Melissa Albert.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
I was surprised to read reviews that were less taken by the book. Perhaps as the Guardian review, by Imogen Russell Williams, suggests, it’s not for everyone (although I can’t understand why – does not everyone enjoy beautifully written jaunts into dark and magical worlds? No?).
I, however, firmly believe this story is so elegantly and skilfully told, it deserves to be poured over again and again. I may even buy the fancy hard back edition.
For more information about this book and the author visit here.