that book everyone is talking about

It's been a while since I've reviewed books on my blog. As I gravitated more and more toward writing, and especially after my first books have sold to a publisher, I decided that book reviewing was somewhat a conflict of interest for me as a soon-to-be published author. However... It's also been a while since I've read a book that captivated me completely, that blew my expectations out of the water, and which reminded me exactly why I wanted to write Young Adult fiction.

If you haven't figure it out yet, THE HAZEL WOOD is the book I'm talking about.

It is magnificent.

Believe the hype, people.

Here's my spoiler-free review.

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1)The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You burn so brightly... So much anger. So much ice.

I don't say these things lightly: this book is unlike anything I've read in a long, long while. Somehow I managed to stay away from all the reviews and the hype - so I knew nothing about The Hazel Wood aside from its official description. Having said that, I was sort of pre-mesmerized by the cover art and its all-consuming dark magical vibe.


  The Dark Forest Revisited (IV)


Having now unlocked the mist-and-earth-after-the-rain secrets of this astonishing debut, I realize how difficult it is to actually review this unique, complex, super-smart and beautifully dark book (is someone counting how many times have I used the word "dark" already? No? Let us go on then...). (No spoilers!)

On the surface, The Hazel Wood is playing with some familiar tropes, the very staples of urban fantasies: a young woman's raw awakening, a hint of grave-deep secrets surrounding her past, the gloomy promise of the otherworldly, the house in the woods...

  Fairy Tale


But the tropes are flipped and the girl is... complicated, filled with rage; her urge to belong, to make sense, to matter are burning holes in her icy heart.

  Utopia


The Hazel Wood goes deep in its exploration of selfhood, all the way to the murky bottom of the human psyche, staring down all the hideous monsters that dwell there. At its heart, this book is a poetic study of the secrets of creation, of the thinning barriers between worlds, of the very essence of immortality. But most of all, it is a study of rage, of growing up and fighting for one's identity, perhaps one's very soul.

When Alice was born, her eyes were black from end to end.



Images attribution:
1. The Dark Forest Revisited (IV) by Joan Sorolla via Flickr
2. Fairy Tale by Juan Salmoral via Flickr
3. Utopia by Lucy Wilson via Flickr

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