The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

This book wasn’t even on my radar, and I don’t know why not.

Once I realised it would be part of the Fairyloot February box (thanks to BookBox Sherlocks for the info) I suddenly saw it everywhere and had to convince myself to wait for my Fairyloot Book post.  I’m glad I did as the box came with a Hinterland candle made by Wick and Fable, which smells like the world your reading about. It’s the perfect accompaniment!

The backdrop to the books is all about the telling of fairy-tales, with a twist – Tales from the Hinterland.  These are stories that aren’t made for children – The book is written by our protagonist,  Alice’s,  grandmother who is famed for her reclusiveness and Alice herself has never met.

As Alice and Ella run from bad luck over and over again Alice starts to think they will never settle and wonders if shes brought bad luck to their door. That’s until Ella completed the classic fairy-tale plot of marrying up, and everything settles – until Ella goes missing; leaving one cryptic message  for Alice. Do not look for the Hazel Wood.

Stitch decided to claim my copy as soon as I turned the final page.

Alice enlists the help of Finch, a boy from school, a hinterland enthusiast and rich kid; someone she barely knows, and starts to hunt down Ella and the Hazel Wood, but along the way unusual things happen; Characters from her grandmother’s book start to turn up – creeping from the fabled pages into the real world.  There aren’t many copies of the book, despite its popularity and Alice herself has never read the stories – so has to rely on her companion’s knowledge – luckily he’s read the book a few times.

The big questions are what happens to people when they find the Hinterland, and the Hazel Wood, are the tales of Hinterland real, and will Alice fall down her very own rabbit hole?

I think you have to be a fairy-tale believer, or wannabe believer at the very least to enjoy this book.  I am so it was perfectly suited to my imagination.   As this was part of my FairyLoot box for February not only was my copy signed, but it had a note and Q&A from the author.

Melissa Albert describes her book in 5 words as

“ Delirious contemporary, fairy-tale noir”  

I cant think of any words that describe it better.


Note from the Author

When quizzed on her inspiration Albert reveals more than ten years ago she read an article about the ‘hinterland’ which is a mystical term for the unknown wilds of the north, this book is her way of bringing the imaginings that word gave her to life.

I really hope there’s a follow up novella style companion that tells us ‘The Stories of Hinterland’ (similar to Tales of Beedle the Bard accompanying the Harry Potter books) as it seems like the perfect twisted bedtime storybook of nightmares to me.

The story is wrapped in magic paper with a folklore bow creating a beautiful fable. 


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