by Melissa Albert
'Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.'
*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
This book . . . wow. I'm still not sure what I read. This is one bizarre story! I'm not sure how I feel about it because I'm not sure I understand it. LOL Seriously, there is some Pan's Labyrinth type weirdness on these pages.
The book starts pretty normal. The story is, I don't know, linear? This happens, this happens next, then this happens. People go here and say this, do this, and it all makes sense. There are some creepy bits mixed in along the way but it's still . . . normal. The middle part of the book just becomes weird! It's not bad, but it's no longer the normal . . . linear . . . type story. It's more like a weird dream, with random bits that seem to have nothing to do with each other leading the characters along. I was kinda like 'What is going on?? Why can't I understand this?!' and fretting my own ability to comprehend words on pages. Then I sort of gave up trying and went with it. And then the later part of the book returns to a more normal tone again, although in the end you're still shaking your head and wondering what you just read.
When thinking about how to do this review, I debated just how much I wanted to say. I mean, I do have a spoiler alert but still. I think I'll just say that the middle part of the book, all that weird stuff, is when Alice finds herself stuck in a fairy tale land. Like, an actual different world where various stories are actually real life to these people. But why do they seem to be stuck? Why have these people been replaying a loop of events? How does Alice fit into all this, and can she help them?
I finished this book last night and it's still nagging my brain even now, the next afternoon. It would probably make a whole lot more sense to me if I read it again someday but I think I'm okay with not fully understanding. It's just a whole lotta weird!