This one was special!
I was sent this book by Sara (@scientificstars/ scientificstars.com) when we did an annotated book swap a while back and I have finally gotten around to reading it. Because of this, I filmed an entire reading vlog for this novel which will be posted on Saturday Aug. 8th!
Blurb 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.” Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
I had not read the blurb before going into this and really didn’t know what to expect. All I knew of the story, was the warning given to us on the cover: Stay away from The Hazel Wood.
This story starts off with Alice. A girl without a home, always moving, running from things unseen, unknown to her. Dangers her mother is trying to protect her from.
We are given all of this information in a montage that spans a couple of chapters, littered with beautiful metaphors that carry through the story, adding to the magic and character. In this short span of time, we learn about Alice as a person. From the way she speaks about her mother, Ella, to the way she feels about her mobile lifestyle.
Alice and Ella live their lives on the move until one day; the day Ella’s mother is announced as deceased. Ella settles, Alice is unsettled but doesn’t resist, she just wants happiness her mother and will do anything to ensure this. Time passes and the bad luck seems to have passed until it catches back up with them, just not in the way it always has.
The bad luck catches up with them and takes the most important thing to Alice, forcing her to chase the bad luck to take back what is hers. She takes a companion along with her on the journey. A fanboy of sorts, someone of whom she is equal parts grateful and annoyed to have along on the journey with her.
The Hazel Wood is a wonderful concept that brings the world of fairytales and the world we know, together through rifts that are opened and strengthened by people reading, rereading, telling and sharing the stories.
I’m such a sucker for this concept, probably because it deals with a mention of immortality and I am a sucker for immortality. Death scares me. Also, the concept reminds me of this quote from one of Macklemore’s songs;
“I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave
And the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name”
Macklemore – Glorious feat. Skylar Grey
I’ve always been so fascinated by this quote, but also by the fact that it is essentially possible to live forever as long as people remember you.
It is not enough to be famous, you must be infamous, legendary, unforgettable. It’s a strange concept and something so out of your own hands that it’s completely unattainable to achieve on one’s own. It makes me think about why everyone wants to become famous, and it’s not really for the fame, money and luxury is it? It’s to be immortalised, and in every sense of the word, to live forever.
I went a little off-course there, but I truly loved the entire immortal clockwork concept to the fairytales in this story and the possibility to break out or change this. It was really captivating and had me hooked until the very end!
Apparently there is a sequel… I’m not too sure if I want to read it. I really liked the idea of this being a neatly wrapped-up stand-alone fantasy novel as there aren’t many of them. The ambiguity and freedom of imagination that the ending allows gives me some sort of comfort. I don’t know why but I feel content with what we have here.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book ★★★★★ (4.75/5 stars) not because it was exceptional but it dealt with concepts, spoke in metaphors that I fall in love with, and the entire novel was special in a way that resonated with me.
What’s your favourite fairytale story?
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).