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Melissa Albert Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Hazel Wood (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Melissa Albert is an American author that writes fantasy fiction for young adults. Even before she took to writing fiction, Melissa was a fairly significant member of the publishing industry.

The author founded the Barnes and Noble Teen Blog, spearheading it as editor. She is also the managing editor of BN.com. Melissa has been reading for as long as she can remember.

As a child, she was drawn to fairy tales. She devoured the Grimm Brothers’ stories the first chance she got. She eventually moved on to Andrew Lang and his assortment of colored fairy books, not to mention novels like ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ by Ellen Kushner and ‘Wise Child’ by Monica Furlong.

The author believes that her early reading habits definitely informed the sort of writer she became. ‘The Hazel Wood’, the author’s first novel, follows a heroine who is transported to a world of fantasy and magic she previously thought was a mere literary creation.

The book was inspired by the foundation of fantasy literature that Melissa has created in her mind over the many years. The author has been quick to dispel suggestions that ‘The Hazel Wood’ is a retelling of classic fairy tales.

Her concepts are wholly original.

Besides fiction, Melissa Albert has written for the likes of MTV and Time Out Chicago.

+The Hazel Wood

Alice isn’t like most kids. Most of her life has been spent on the road with her mother. She is seventeen-years-old and it doesn’t look like things will change for her anytime soon, not with the bad luck that has relentlessly hounded them for so long.

The unexpected happens when Alice’s grandmother dies. The old woman was an author and a shockingly popular one at that. Her dark fairy tales had earned the recluse a cult following.

Supposedly, she died alone on the Hazel Wood, her estate. Alice didn’t think things could get any worse after that. But then her mother was kidnapped and her captor claimed that he emerged from the Hinterland, the magical world her grandmother wrote about.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, Alice’s mother left her a message explicitly forbidding her from going to the Hazel Wood.

But Alice is left with few other options but to disobey. The young woman has spent her life avoiding her grandmother’s rabid fans. Once she realizes that she might need their expertise to solve the mystery at hand, Alice seeks out and makes an ally out of Ellery Finch, a superfan of the Hinterland books and a classmate.

Alice suspects that Finch might have his own reasons for helping her, but she doesn’t care. She will need all the help she can get if she is to infiltrate the Hazel Wood, venture into a world of magic and rescue her mother.

If Alice is lucky, she just might learn why her life has always been so odd.

‘The Hazel Wood’ is Melissa Albert’s debut novel. The book has been commended for its strong female characters and whimsical setting. Though, critics believe that Melissa’s concepts and writing style are better suited for teens who like novels with dreamy prose and unrelenting metaphors.

The story revolves around the characters of Alice, her mother Ella, and her grandmother Althea Proserpine. Althea is an author that writes the ‘Tales of the Hinterland’ stories. At the start of this book, Althea has been famous for several years, her books having attracted a cult following.

Alice knows of her grandmother’s work even though she has never met the woman. Alice believes that her unstable life has been the result of Althea’s literary efforts. For as long as she can remember, Ella has seen fit to pack up their things and force them to move over and over again, presumably to escape a bout of bad luck emanating from a book Althea wrote.

When Ella is supposedly taken, Alice teams up with a classmate to find her, a classmate that has great knowledge of Althea’s stories and, thus, can provide some much-needed guidance.

One of the bigger complaints typically leveled at this book is its pacing. The Hazel Wood is marketed as a fantasy YA novel. However, the majority of this book is a road trip that takes place in the real world.

It isn’t until the final one hundred pages that readers are finally introduced to the fantasy elements of the story.

At that point, ‘The Hazel Wood’ becomes more like Alice in Wonderland as Alice and her friend explore a magical world come to life.

Alice is somewhat cold when she is first introduced. Her personality is more than likely the result of years spent sleeping in their car as they migrated from city to city in their efforts to stay ahead of some bad luck.

The character is rude and self-centered. She does not like the fact that she grew up poor and it has created in her an overbearing personality that seeks to gets its way in all situations.

The heroine is written to be very demanding. She also refuses to acknowledge her mistakes.
Finch, her partner in crime over the duration of their journey, is written to be her opposite. Finch becomes a crucial aspect of Alice’s plan because of his in-depth knowledge of Althea’s work.

The biracial character isn’t Alice’s first choice for a friend. However, her grandmother’s Hinterland books are so rare that it proves impossible for her to get her hands on a copy. Finch becomes her only hope.

It takes a while for Alice and Finch to bond. Because Alice’s poor upbringing is a sore spot for her, Finch’s wealthy background initially rubs her the wrong way. Their journey to rescue Ella gives them plenty of opportunities to overcome their individual prejudices.

The Hazel Wood is technically written with young readers in mind; in particular teenagers. However, the contents of the book have a dark learning to them. There is no sex to speak of but Melissa Albert doesn’t hold back on the graphic violence and the horror.

While the author doesn’t deliver any outright gore, Melissa succeeds in inserting an underlying sense of unease. Though, detractors of this book will argue that it doesn’t deliver on the marketing which promised a spookier and more twisted fairy tale than had been seen in decades.

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