If this book is in fact adapted to film, I have high demands. It must start in black and white, and have dated costumes and lots of drinking and smoking and an excess of pressed suits and trench coats. If the pre-Hinterland action is styled to fit in with the rest of film noir history, then the adaptation is a failure. I don’t want it to be a failure. This eerie, film noir fairy tale book was impressive and unique and would make such a great movie if stylistically it is done accurately.
Alice and her mother have been on the move their entire lives, cursed with bad luck hitting them at every place they live. When Alice’s grandmother dies, it seems like the curse may lift. After an unwelcome coffee shop visit from a deranged fan of a book Alice’s grandmother wrote, however, Alice isn’t so sure the curse is gone. Then her mother is kidnapped…by the very people her absentee grandmother once wrote about.
On the surface The Hazel Wood is a typical Wonderland tale. Hell, it even has a main character named Alice! To say it is a repeat of Alice in Wonderland, however, is a serious discredit to what Melissa Albert does in this book.
As I mention above, the book has a distinct noir aesthetic. It’s creepy and dark and mysterious. The style alone kept me holding my breath in anticipation of every movement made in this book. The style alone is worthy of praise.
And, certainly, film noir is hardly the only tribute given. There’s many allusions to other works of literature and film; so many that I added titles to my TBR while reading this.
The Hinterland tales themselves echo the works of the Brothers Grimm. If you gave me Albert’s version of fairy tales without her name attached, I could believe it was from a collection of Grimm’s fairy tales. Albert echoes the spirit and lore of more familiar tales with her take on the Hinterland. I enjoyed Alice’s journey in this book, but I enjoyed Albert’s original “fairy tales” even more.
This is a book that took me in with style and spirit, and not my usual favored book features. That makes it all the more impressive to me. The Hazel Wood is, by my account, creepy and artistic enough that I would dislike it were it any other book. I don’t favor either of those things. Instead this book impressed and delighted me. I can’t wait for more from this universe.