The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Last Sunday night I made a terrible mistake. I started Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood just thirty minutes before bed and then I didn’t want to put it down! I stayed up way too late night after night as I became caught up in seventeen-year-old Alice Proserpine’s story of all the creepy, bad things that have followed her and her mother as they’ve spent their lives on the road, moving from one place to another in order to escape Alice’s grandmother’s fairy tale legacy. To say that this young adult novel is a reinvented fairy tale doesn’t quite capture it fully. Those elements are present but the book as a whole is so much more. The Hazel Wood also falls in the category of portal fiction – tales where characters are able to enter different worlds through a door, some sort of distortion in the landscape or even a wardrobe a la The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. But again, it goes beyond that genre to contain at its essence a beautifully written tale of a young woman trying to rescue her mother at all costs. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes young adult titles, fairy tales, or just a good story. But be forewarned – it will make you stay up past your bedtime!
-Dee Hare, NERL Director