Hello Humans! Ever wondered what would happen to storybook characters in the modern world (and want something darker than OUAT?) – look no further than the second book in Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood series. The Night Country is a thriller-meets-fantasy book coming out in early January. I’ve managed to snag an early copy so I can share with you how this book compares to The Hazel Wood.
In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.
With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home…
First things first, and perhaps the most important if you’re an avid reader and (like me) you tend to want to just dive into things. Can you read this book without (re)reading The Hazel Wood? In typical ‘me’ fashion I dove in, I would say it was 80% ok, but I had a fairly good memory of what happened in the book before. I think it’s one of those stories where you can read it on its own, but it will be easier to get into if you have a working memory of the events of the previous book. I also think that reading The Hazel Wood is a worthwhile experience, so bookmark this review, go and read that and see what you think and then come back.
Ok, The Night Country. I flip flop between preferring this book to book one and thinking the complete opposite. I think The Hazel Wood is the more cohesive book of the two, whereas this book tries to take on a number of different threads to differing levels of success. That being said, I think The Night Country captured my imagination in so many different ways that I enjoyed the composite parts of it more than I enjoyed The Hazel Wood as a whole. What I’m trying to say is that both of these books are good (and less good) for different reasons.
Alice is a character to whom readers might relate, or they might find her a bit of a pain, she’s a bit marmite. I came down on the side of ‘this is a depiction of a character in a bad mental state and sometimes that makes a character feel unlikable’ – more a me problem than a book problem. Essentially, Alice makes some self-destructive choices and while I know those are a part of storytelling they still hurt me whenever I read them. For the most part, it’s clear why Alice is making those choices, but when it is less clear it’s hard to feel sorry for her.
The prose in this book is absolutely beautiful. I know it won’t be for everyone, but the way that Melissa Albert constructs imagery always manages to get me. She somehow captures every single one of my senses, I really get the sense of the world and settings these characters inhabit. In a book like this, where there are a whole variety of different locations, that distinction of place is incredibly important and Melissa Albert pulls it off.
The plot may have been a little hard to follow at times, but that (as ever) could just mean I was a little scatterbrained while reading. I think I might have liked a little bit more cohesion between the disparate aspects of the plot, which could have made the tieing together of the ending a little more satisfying – perhaps this is a book to re-read for better comprehension?
Overall, I had a good time reading this book, much like The Hazel Wood the general impression I had while reading was one of wonder, Melissa Albert can craft a setting so incredibly well that I can forgive some other slips in execution.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free digital copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Hazel Wood Publishes January 9th!
What say you? Is this on your TBR – let me know in the comments below!