The Hazel Wood Review
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
A darker version of Alice in Wonderland.
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic 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 Hinterland, 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.”
This is truly a unique book. The concept of this book reminds me of one of my all-time favorite trilogies, Inkheart. In fact, it’s very similar yet also completely different. Now if you haven’t read Inkheart, I highly recommend you do! Inkheart is the book that got me into reading in the first place. That’s a story for another day, but it will forever hold a place in my heart.
I’m actually surprised at myself saying that this book reminds me of Inkheart, as I didn’t actually think to make this connection until I started writing this review. I really should have made the comparison sooner. I was about to write down “I’ve never read a story quite like this” but in fact, this isn’t true at all. I have before.
The concept of this book reminds me of one of my all-time favorite trilogies, Inkheart... I’m actually surprised at myself saying that this book reminds me of Inkheart, as I didn’t actually think to make this connection until I started writing this review.
Now let me reiterate, The Hazel Wood follows Alice who has lived basically on the run her entire life with her mom. Constantly moving around staying with friends and colleagues until the bad luck they’re running from caught up with them to their current “home.” This all sounds very familiar to the main character Meggie with her father. However, they weren’t really running away, they just disappeared for a bit to hide from who was chasing them.
Though both of them are eventually faced with fictional characters from stories that most had only read about. Both books are similar in this aspect. And these fictional characters come from a magical land you can’t just reach by going on a road trip. These lands don’t just let anyone in. And people spend years trying to get to these lands. This is true for both The Hazel Wood and Inkheart.
So up to a certain point, Inkheart and The Hazel Wood are very similar. Beyond these similarities, they’re both wildly different. For me, making this comparison makes me appreciate The Hazel Wood more than I initially thought. Though it doesn’t rank nearly as high as Inkheart did for me. I truly enjoyed reading The Hazel Wood.
The beginning of this book was a little slow for me. It wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through was I fully hooked. Then it really started to pick up. It was very entertaining to read, learning the secrets about The Hazel Wood. I will say the ending felt very rushed. I would have liked to get a bit more details within those last few pages.
It wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through was I fully hooked. Then it really started to pick up. It was very entertaining to read, learning the secrets about The Hazel Wood.
It definitely gave off Alice in Wonderland vibes especially with how Alice finally starts her journey to travel within the Hinterland. Following characters and basically breadcrumbs like Alice followed the White Rabbit. The only difference is this was much darker with the types of fairytales Alice encounters. It reminded me more of the live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland now that I think about how dark The Hazel Wood was. Plus, like hello, the main character’s name is Alice.
One thing that bothered me was this slight romance that starter halfway through. Part of me wished it fully went into a romance and the other part of me wishes it wasn’t there at all. It really didn’t help the plot. It felt more like a distraction.
Overall, although this not a favorite, I did enjoy reading this. Though I can tell that not everyone will like this one. Just from the other reviews, I’ve read on this one you either love it or hate it. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the second half of the book I would probably have hated it, too. I don’t particularly love this book entirely, I love parts of it. I think it’s a fun concept and it’s showcased in a unique way. So do keep this in mind, depending on your personal taste you may or may not enjoy this particular book fairytale. But, I definitely think it’s worth trying.