The Hazel Wood (ARC) by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood is Melissa Albert’s debut novel, set to release in North America on January 30, 2018. It promises to be a mesmerizing and unique modern fairy tale that weaves together our own world with one far more fantastical, and far more sinister (Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).

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.

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A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

You can find my review for the Companion novel to A Thousand Nights, titled Spindle, here

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston was released in October of 2015, yet only came to my attention recently, after the outstanding success of its companion novel, Spindle, which was released in December of 2016, little over a year later. Where Spindle is a tale of daring and adventure, A Thousand Nights is a tale of loyalty and courage.

“If you listen long enough to the whispers, you will hear the truth. Until then, I will tell you this: the world is made safe by a woman.” – E.K. Johnston (A Thousand Nights, p.325.

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next. And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong. Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air. Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

NOTE: The main character has no name – Johnston acknowledges that she did this intentionally (in her acknowledgements at the end of the book), so she will be referred to as the Storyteller Queen throughout this review, as she is referred to by this title in Spindle. 

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