Overview (No Spoilers):
As someone who has lived with their nose in a book for much of their life, it should be no surprise that fairytales were some of the first tales that completely captured my imagination, and have never truly let go. I find myself intrigued by most adaptions on these timeless stories, only to have them lapse into predictable plots and narratives. While The Hazel Wood taps into society’s fascination with fairytales and how we really never grow out of them, Albert creates a wholly unique, and incredibly dark set of stories that breaks the aforementioned mold. To achieve this effect while simultaneously adding layers and depth to her literary realm, Albert has created in The Hazel Wood a collection of distinct fairytales, foreign to the reader yet have intrigued one and all in the context of the story. The beginning of The Hazel Wood follows Alice and her mother Ella as they are living a nomadic lifestyle, plagued by bad luck and the shadow of a famous Grandmother. Much of the beginning of this story, while shrouded in mystery, starts out relatively normal and bit boring, i.e., awkward, ill-tempered girl doesn’t quite fit into her school, has a strained relationship with her step sister and of course dislikes her stepfather. Needless to say, the plot shifts from this narrative very quickly, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat for the remainder of the book. In fact I was so immersed in this delightfully dark literary world that I was surprised to find that I was already 82% of the way through Alice’s journey. This pleasant discovery was intermingled with concern that Albert could resolve everything in the limited time left in the novel. With that being said, she did manage to wrap everything up quickly and concisely, with only minimal feelings of being rushed. Overall, The Hazel Wood was a highly enjoyable, fast paced read that offers an innovative take on the popular subject of fairytales.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
I’ve made the decision to postpone publishing my additional insight section until the release date. The spoilers are far too juicy! Please see back on January 30th for my spoiler laden thoughts!
When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, relatively new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed that either had to look up the definition or a word I do not currently utilize on a regular basis in my everyday repertoire. This endeavor is easier when in the Kindle format, and potentially impossible with audiobooks, however I’m going to attempt to continue this section for future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Pendulous: suspended so as to swing freely
Stasis: a slowing or stoppage of the normal flow of a bodily fluid or semifluid
Genuflect: to be humbly obedient or respectful
Ostensibly: to all outward appearances
Soporific: causing or tending to cause sleep
Aviatrix: a woman who is an aviator
Mealy: covered with meal or with fine granules
Bodega: a usually small grocery store in an urban area
Detritus: a product of disintegration, destruction, or wearing away
Enervating: lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor
Klezmer: a Jewish instrumentalist especially of traditional eastern European music
Ennui: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction
Zaftig: having a full rounded figure