The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Rate: 4/5

Medium: Book

Overview (No Spoilers):

A few years ago I stumbled across Albert’s fascinating, but dark debut fantasy novel, The Hazel Wood, whose ending left the reader wanting more, albeit concluding in a way that didn’t leave one anticipating a sequel. Needless to say, when researching upcoming book releases for 2020, I was surprised to find The Night Country coming out in January. Even better, my local bookstore announced that they were one of the stops along Albert’s book tour! My mother in law and I really enjoyed learning about Albert’s writing process and insights behind some of the characters in The Hazel Wood. She was so sweet and sincerely genuine, taking the time to individually chat with everyone.  Plus, I have to say, are the two covers for these novels not positively stunning!

Upon starting The Night Country, it was easy to jump back into this world of fairy tales, with Albert’s writing assuming its familiar yet eloquent style that playfully draws the readers in despite the dark material. The seemingly effortless story weaving resulted this sequel being a quick read that was over before I knew it. Interestingly, Albert made the choice to add a new POV that turned out to be my favorite part of the book and my favorite character. Many secrets were unveiled, new worlds explored and we the history revealed for several key figures. Albert also delivers one of my favorite recent literary quotes.

“Every book is a door. ”

How true! Every book is a door into new and intriguing worlds that inspire the imagination.

In general, The Night Country was an ideal sequel to The Hazel Wood, with the return of familiar characters and significant growth for both our understanding and grasp of this literary world. I’m looking forward to the Albert’s next release of the fairy tales that inspired and are brought to life throughout The Hazel Wood and The Night Country.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • It was interesting to read about the ex Stories trying to adapt to life in the new World. All of my favorite ones end up meeting bitter deaths though. Was there life after death for Sophia?
  • Ellery was by far my favorite character in this story! His adventures to new world and as the Hinterland was dying left me wanting more of his POV.
  • I would have kept more of the Hinterland treasures! What will Ellory do with all his money?
  • What happened to everyone that went through the door of the Hinterland without the Magical Passport?
  • Oh my heart. When Alice found Ellery’s letter in Austen’s Persuasion!
  • I enjoyed Alice’s change from continually raging to more reflective.
  • Did Ellery destroy his world?
  • Will Alice have side effects due to one of the pieces of her being killed?
  • Who was the girl who betrayed Ellery really? What was her story? Why couldn’t she look through the spy glass.

Vocabulary Builder:

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. Also included are words that I know but never use verbally and would like to add them to my repertoire. 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 and either had to look up the definition or it is a word in which I would like to add to my 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 all future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Gimlet: having a piercing or penetrating quality

Prismatic: highly colored

Detente:  the relaxation of strained relations or tensions (as between nations)

Mercurial: characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood

Enervating: lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor

Ephemeral: lasting a very short time

Coracle: a small boat used in Britain from ancient times and made of a frame (as of wicker) covered usually with hide or tarpaulin

Replete: fully or abundantly provided or filled

Matins: the night office forming with lauds the first of the canonical hours

Agora: a gathering place

Sentient: responsive to or conscious of sense impressions

Snick: to perform a light cutting action

Undulating: to rise and fall in volume, pitch, or cadence

Esoteric: limited to a small circle

Carapace: a bony or chitinous case or shield covering the back or part of the back of an animal (such as a turtle or crab)



  1. I’ve been eyeing these in the bookstore for their beautiful covers! How fun that you got to meet the author! What age would you say they’re appropriate for? I had considered buying Hazel Wood for my niece (she’s 14) but wondered if it was a slightly more mature YA?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karissa! I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves these covers!! Oh that’s a hard question because it is all dependent on your niece. This is definitely darker YA but I tent to have the opinion that readers will take out of the material what they’re able to understand. There are a few gruesome murders described but that’s all that comes to mind. At 14 would have been fine with this read, but I’d already read Kong’s IT. 🤦🏻‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

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