Like so many other fantasy readers, I have spent countless hours wishing I could cross the line between reality and fiction — that is, until I entered the chilling world of Melissa Albert's new young adult novel and realized that not all fairy tales are about cute talking animals, true love's kiss, and happy endings. In fact, some — like the ones in the pages of The Hazel Wood, out now from Flatiron Books — are so disturbing, they'll send you screaming for your life. If this year's buzziest book isn't on your TBR list yet, these breathtaking quotes from The Hazel Wood will make you want to read it ASAP.
Once upon a time, 17-year-old Alice Proserpine lived her life on the open road alongside her beloved mother, Ella. It seemed no matter where the pair went — a trailer in Tacoma, a storefront theater in Chicago, a guest house in Los Angeles — bad luck followed them everywhere. That is, until the day Ella receives a letter informing her that her mother, Althea Proserpine, the author of a slim collection of dark fairy tales with a cult-like following, has died, and she declares them finally free. But when Ella is abducted by a mysterious man who claims to be from Hinterland, the same world of Althea's fairy tales, it becomes increasingly clear to Alice that their bad luck has only just begun.
To get Ella back, Alice is convinced she must find the one place her mother made her promise never to go: The Hazel Wood, her grandmother Althea's mysterious estate. With the help of her classmate and Hinterland superfan Ellery Finch, who may have ulterior motives of his own, Alice begins to uncover the secrets of her family's past, secrets that lead her straight to the menacing world of Hinterland.
Perfect for fans of the film Pan's Labyrinth, Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy, and Kelly Link's short stories, The Hazel Wood is a bewitching fantasy for readers who aren't afraid of the sinister side of fairy tales. It is a truly alluring tale that reveals the danger, darkness, and death hiding behind every "Once upon a time," but it is author Melissa Albert's dreamlike prose that will have readers under her spell. Rich and lyrical, each line draws you further and further into the devastating world of Hinterland.
Here's a taste of 11 of the best ones:
"My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunroof, whipping by in a river of blue. My mom tells me that’s impossible—our car doesn’t have a sunroof. But I can still close my eyes and see it, so I’m holding on to it."
"It was that last one that got us into trouble — Ella's dream of a normal life for me, one with a future. Because if you've spent your whole life running, how do you learn to stand still? How do you figure out the right way to turn your straw house into brick?"
“There are no lessons in it. There's just this harsh, horrible world touched with beautiful magic, where sh*tty things happen. And they don't happen for a reason, or in threes, or in a way that looks like justice. They're set in a place that has no rules and doesn't want any. And the author's voice — your grandmother's voice — is perfectly pitiless. She's like a war reporter who doesn't give a f*ck.”
“Look until the leaves turn red, sew the worlds up with thread. If your journey's left undone, fear the rising of the sun.”
"She turned around. There was the scent in the air of cold lilacs, a late freeze on an early bloom. It was the smell of her mother's perfume. The black-eyed princess felt her parents' distant castle like the pulsing heartbeat of an animal she wanted to kill. She set her path back toward it."
"Staying in motion was as much part of who we were as my mom's sharp laugh, my angry streak. Our bad luck days that abated with every move, then slipped back in like red dirt on our shoes."
"At the moment she let go of her last breath, the white light shuddered and went green. The green of infected wounds, of nightmares, of the rind of old that crawled over week-old bread. The cotton scent turned dusty and stuck in Anya's throat."
"Her black-and-white hair shivered with red. Her skin turned from pale to peach, her lips curled, even her scar plumped up into unmarked skin. But the expression on her face was worse than anything. It was a kind of.... selfish ecstasy."
"My love he wooed me / My love he slew me / My love he buried my bones / His love he married / His love I buried / My love now wanders alone."
“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”
"Hers was the kind of liquid loveliness that held a secret: you look at it again and again, trying to catch it. That quirked brow, the lip with a nick in it, like maybe she'd fallen off her roller skates as a girl."