The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is an interesting take on dark fairy tales, but also what the definition of family is. Alice, the granddaughter of famous author Althea Proserpine, has had trouble her whole life. Alice and her mother, Ella, have been moving around their entire lives due to strange people following them or Ella’s failed relationships, and not to mention the fact that Alice was kidnapped by an oddly familiar man when she was a young child. All of these strange things might relate back to Althea, who wrote many dark and bloody fairy tales when Ella was a child, and caused Ella to resent her mother ever since. One day, Ella goes missing and Alice discovers that her grandmother’s fairy tales might not be as fictional as they seem, so she enlists Ellery Finch (the awkward fanboy of her grandmother) to help her find her mother. Venturing deep into her grandmother’s magic, Alice learns things about her family that are beyond her imagination.
The characters in this story were well written and I enjoyed the overall plot because it kept my attention the majority of the time. I typically am not a fan of dark stories, but the “twisted” fairy tales in The Hazel Wood brought the plot together well and were not overdone. However, I think there were some slow parts throughout the book that made what was happening in the story unclear. I would give this story three and a half out of five stars because it incorporates an intriguing family dynamic into a fantasy story.