The Hazel Wood, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Hazel Wood, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Captivating tale of teen thrust into the world of folklore.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Hazel Wood raises interesting questions about the meanings of folklore and mythology.

Positive Messages

People have the right to tell their own story. Family and friends can make huge sacrifices for each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Having spent her childhood perpetually on the move, Alice is distrustful of people and highly protective of her mother. She can be sarcastic and harsh, but she is loyal to her friends and family. She learns to trust herself and others more as her story progresses.


Plenty of fairy tale mayhem. A man is attacked by a mysterious bird. A major character has his throat cut, and a minor one is killed with an ax.


A character talks about how he lost his virginity.


The language is occasionally rough, with perhaps a dozen uses of "f--k" and "s--t." "Hell," "damn," and "bitch" are used one or two times each.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alice and Ellery spend the night with a friend who is clearly stoned.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySusanTheTeach July 7, 2018

Definitely not for 13 year olds!

I read this book for me and told my daughter, who is 11, how great it was. She has a very high reading level but I told her absolutely not. There are cuss wor... Continue reading
Adult Written byStudiousStudent March 13, 2018

Good book, but could have done without the swearing

This was an excellent book. It would have been even better without the swearing. I loved the concept of the book and Melissa Albert did very well with the narra... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFantasy teen January 23, 2019

Very dark but good

Very dark, lots of swears, strong female character, very good book.
Kid, 11 years old April 28, 2019

I Wish I Had Enjoyed It

I was enthusiastic about the Hazel Wood from the beginning. I was enthusiastic even though I wasn't even enjoying it. because hey, surely some books just... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

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