Ears on the Odyssey

Review: The Hazel Wood

HazelWood

Guest blogger Colleen Seisser fits a perfect fit in narrator and text in this buzz worthy fairy tale.

The Hazel Wood generated a lot of buzz when it was published a year ago! And for good reason. This adventurous urban fantasy turns into an original fairy tale centering on Alice Proserpine, granddaughter of the famous author Althea Proserpine. Althea gained notoriety before Alice was born, when she authored a collection of fairy tales unlike any before. Her tales were dark and haunting, and by the time Alice is a teenager, they are nowhere to be found. Alice herself has never been able to find a copy to read. Since Alice was born, Althea has gone into hiding in the infamous Hazel Wood. Alice and her mom, Ella, are on their own, moving from town to town, always being forced from temporary homes or friend’s homes because of danger, accidents, or terrible luck.

Alice has never met Althea, and Ella does not talk about her childhood or her mother. When they get word that Althea has died, Ella finally settles down and marries a well-to-do guy, and Alice and Ella have a normal life. That is, until Alice sees a mysterious figure from her past, and then Ella disappears. Alice sets out with her friend, the affluent Ellery Finch, to try and find her mother. Alice and Finch are able to determine that all the strange occurrences from her past and her mother’s disappearance are tied to Althea and the Hazel Wood. The mystery of how everything is connected is what really makes this story!

This was such an engaging listen!  Albert’s story is the perfect match for Soler’s style of narration. Soler excels at embodying the snarky heroine that has to go on a journey to truly understand herself—and that is exactly Alice’s path. One of the things I love about audiobooks is when you get immersed in the story and the narration so much that it feels like a friend is telling you the story of their life, or something that happened just the other day. Soler sings, laughs, and infuses the narration with life that takes you on the twists and turns of Albert’s story. The singing especially, is so beautifully done!  One of my minor quibbles, however, is that additional character voicing variation could have been provided at the beginning of the novel. I usually noticed this most with Alice and her mother, Ella.

Take a listen to this audiobook for a great story and a wonderful storytelling experience. Truly, this novel was meant to be read out loud and Rebecca Soler is the perfect fit!

The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert, read by Rebecca Soler. 10 hrs, 30 minutes. Macmillan Audio, 2018.

Colleen Seisser is the Collection Services Manager at the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, IL. She is a current Board Member at Large on the YALSA Board of Directors and she also reviews audiobooks for Booklist Magazine. Colleen attributes ramping up her obsession with audiobooks from serving in various roles on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Committee from 2012-15. She has been listening non-stop since then! When not listening, Colleen is either crafting, gardening, or jammin’ on her planner!  Find her on Twitter @colleenTS81

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