*Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review- but the gushing you’re about to see is all me*
Many of you probably know how much I loved the Hazel Wood (and if you didn’t, here’s your daily reminder 😉) which is why I was nervously excited to read its sequel. Fortunately, while the first worked well as a standalone, there was much to appreciate about this second instalment.
Re-entering Alice’s world, the subtle opening worked its magic on me. Slowly it built up the mystery, hiding more stories within stories, and expanding into new territory. More than ever, Albert demonstrated that this isn’t just inspired by fairy tales, giving us that gothic touch that I admired so much in the original.
Best of all, the characters were still raw and real. The new characters were welcome additions, but I had felt there was room for growth for the two main leads- and that’s what we got here. I especially liked where the story took Ellery Finch. And I felt Alice, with some of her sharp edges blunted, felt more relatable to me here. In many ways, she was just a girl, out of place, trying to find her way, giving this a stronger coming of age element.
As with her debut, Albert’s writing talent shined through. There were so many stunning sentences and beautifully balanced images. Images that blew me away at times. And many, many ingenious references.
Now, despite masterful craft employed here, I have to admit that large parts of this weren’t as compelling as the first. Much of the structure felt meandering and formless. Personally, I felt it could have benefited from a tighter plot. I found I fell out the story somewhere in the middle…
…though luckily I was captured again by the end. Because when this book had me, it had me. Keeping me up well into the dark hours of the night, I found I was hooked by the mind-blowing and meta finale. All the threads that had spun out in the narrative drew together in a satisfying conclusion. Without delving into spoilers, I can safely say it delivered something special. Sure, it wasn’t perfect- but for all its flaws I was still left one satisfied monkey:
Rating: 4/5 bananas
So, if you’re already a fan of the Hazel Wood, I think this is worth your time. And if you haven’t read the first one yet- then what are you waiting for?! Go ahead and read it!
Also I have to include this, cos *PRETTY*, just look at this UK edition:
How gorgeous? Which edition do you prefer? Cos I can’t choose between them! And have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!