This was a pretty good book about Alice, a girl who has spent her life travelling around with her mum, never stopping in one place for more than a few months in case the bad luck they seem to attract finds them. The bad luck comes from Alice's grandmother, who wrote a book of dark fairy stories about a fairy realm called the Hinterland years ago.
I quite enjoyed this book and although it seems to have divided other readers I don't have a hugely strong opinion of it. Worth a read. Pretty imaginative. Fairly standard portal-fantasy format. Especially recommended for anyone who likes lyrical prose, heavy on the metaphor.
The plot was quite interesting enough as I quite enjoy a portal fantasy. It was less nonsensical than I was expecting (I guess because the MC's name is Alice I was expecting it to be like Wonderland).
The pacing did seem a bit off. Alice doesn't actually get near the Hinterland until over halfway through the book and when she did it wasn't actually as scary as I thought it would be. Mediaeval setting, monsters (called Stories) that you just steer clear of as the only danger comes when you get involved in their narrative. Then at the end her Story seemed to be wrapped up a bit too quickly.
My favourite bit was the snippets of Hinterland stories we were given - I would quite happily read a whole book of those.
I've seen other reviews that have said how much the reader liked Finch and how much they hated Alice. For me it was actually the other way around. Being an arsehole isn't actually a barrier to me liking an MC - I've rooted for plenty of serial killers and sociopaths over my reading career. Alice was super unpleasant but not wholly unlikeable as at least she had a bit of backbone about her. I never really got the feeling I got to know Finch. He felt like a bit of a hipster hanger-on, which is a shame as I think he could have been developed a bit further and been made more interesting.
All in all this was okay. It would have got an extra star if Alice had spent a bit more time actually in the Hinterland.
I received a copy of The Hazel Wood in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher.