We’ll start this review off with what I said about it during my First Impression Friday post: I don’t think this book needs to exist.
Put down your pitchforks and listen – it is a good book. I’ll get to that in a minute. But I don’t think this book needed to exist. I think The Hazel Wood finished the story just fine, and I think this book stretched it further, stretched the book beyond what its author originally intended it to be, and we ended up with something extra that did not have to exist.
The book is excellent – the action is great, I’m not irrationally angry at the teenage protagonist, and the love story is haphazardly wrapped up at the end instead of dragging us through it the entire length of the book. The situation – former Hinterlanders turning up dead, frozen as if Alice herself did it – is decidedly creepy, and yet I don’t feel like I wanted this book. Usually with books that have sequels, I’m ecstatic for the next one in the series. Like The Last Graduate, which is coming out this year as a follow-up to A Deadly Education. I can’t wait for that book. In terms of The Hazel Wood, I didn’t want or need a sequel.
In a way, this book sort of reminded me of Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb, because Alice spends her days and nights running around New York, desperately trying to solve the murders while keeping her mother safe. While Kiki Strike and friends didn’t have to solve murders (instead, shipments of children), they did run around New York City and avoid their family members because they had a mission.
The book itself I would give 4/5 stars, because it’s well-written, the mystery behind the killings is chilling when you finally figure it out, and I will admit it was fun to go and visit the Hinterlands again. We even get a few chapters written from Ellery’s point of view (third person, but still). I enjoyed the book, and I think it would be one that I read again at some point in the future (hopefully we get a companion book to The Night Country, just like we did with The Hazel Wood), but I’m hoping this series ends here, as a duology, and doesn’t continue as a trilogy, although I feel like this one opens up much more than the ending of the last one to lead to a new book.
If you felt, unlike me, that you needed a sequel to The Hazel Wood, then you absolutely won’t be disappointed by this book. If you felt, like me, that you didn’t need a sequel, I think you will still be impressed with this one. It doesn’t wrap up as neatly in the end as the previous book, but it’s still a fun trip regardless.
How do you feel about fairy tales and retellings? Did you think The Hazel Wood needed a sequel? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.