A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Hazel Wood is a contemporary fantasy novel steeped in the traditions of European folklore. The book chronicles Alice Proserpine's quest to find her grandmother and rescue her mother in the magical world known as the Hinterland. It includes some violent scenes -- a throat-cutting, an attack by a giant bird, an ax murder -- but death isn't always permanent in the Hinterland. There's occasional strong language, with perhaps a dozen uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Sexual content is minimal (a character talks about how he lost his virginity), and a teen appears stoned in one scene.
What's the story?
As THE HAZEL WOOD begins, 16-year-old Alice has spent life on the move with her mother, Ella, trying to stay one step ahead of deadly streaks of bad luck. When Alice learns that her reclusive grandmother, cult author Althea Proserpine, has died, she's doubly traumatized by the disappearance of Ella. Desperate for advice, she teams up with Ellery Finch, the super-rich superfan of Althea's lone book, Tales of the Hinterland. Together, they head toward Alice's ancestral home, a place filled with often-deadly magic.
Is it any good?
Fairy tales and folklore drive the plots of many modern novels, but it takes a special kind of magic to create such a witty, suspenseful, and insightful novel as this one. With The Hazel Wood, debut novelist Melissa Albert weaves a literary spell over her readers, using the elements of fairy tales to tell a gripping tale of the supernatural. Alice is an acerbic and prickly protagonist, but you can't help but root for her as she attempts to unravel the secrets of her birthright. Smart, funny, and emotionally compelling, The Hazel Wood is a magical debut.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Hazel Wood uses the elements of myth and folklore to tell its modern-day story. Why have fairy tales endured across the centuries? How are they used in popular culture?
What role does violence play in The Hazel Wood? When and why are characters forced to use it? What are the real-life consequences of such actions?
Why is storytelling important? What kinds of stories are passed down from generation to generation and why?
- Author: Melissa Albert
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Fairy tales, Great girl role models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Flatiron Books
- Publication date: January 30, 2018
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.