This post contains affiliate links. Please read disclosure in sidebar.
My latest favorite book is The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Looking at the reviews on Goodreads, it seems you either love it or hate it. I just loved it!
If you love fairy tales and modern gothic type stories, this might just become a favorite of yours, too. I’ve read in reviews that many people thought since the main character’s name is Alice that this was some kind of twist on Alice in Wonderland, but it is not. This is a completely different Alice.
Here’s the plot synopsis:
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.
The story begins in New York City where Alice and her mother live, when they receive a letter that her grandmother has died. After her mother is kidnap and some really strange things happen, Alice and her friend Ellery journey north to find the Hazel Wood, where her grandmother lived, s well as the fairy tale world.
This is not your typical happily ever after princess fairy tale. These fairy tale stories felt very sinister and creepy.
When Alice was born, her eyes were black from end to end, and the midwife didn’t stay long enough to wash her.
I really enjoyed this book, and I readily admit I had to put it down a couple of times because it had a serious creep factor, which was why I said earlier it had a modern gothic feel. Gothic novels always give me the creeps, and I got that same feeling from this one. Mainly, it was because the fairy tales mentioned in the book felt so sinister.
Think Brothers Grimm fairy tale stories and then add a touch more evil. I hear the author is writing the actual book of fairy tales, which intrigues me and scares the heck out of me, too. As you learn tidbits of certain fairy tales from Alice’s grandmother’s book, Tales from the Hinterland, you just want to drink it up and read those stories yourself.
It has a few twists and turns, so I wasn’t really sure where the story was leading, which is my favorite kind of book. You do have suspicions of what it all means, but there are definite surprises along the way. It’s very hard to put down, except when you’re scared silly laying in bed late at night in the dark reading this like me.
Honey Lavender Syrup for Honey Lavender Dream Drink
Alice works in a coffee house and mentions that she likes to make herself a fancy latte with honey lavender syrup. Then, later in the story when she’s in the fairy tales, she mentions again a favorite drink made with honey lavender syrup and cream over chipped ice. I just had to try it.
The syrup is easy to make. I had some culinary lavender I had purchased from Amazon for this Vanilla Lavender Limeade. I combined it with honey, sugar, and water. I also added some blueberries in hopes to turn it a little purple without the need of food coloring, but my honey was so dark it just added a little red to the color.
I heated them all in the microwave until the sugar was completed melted. I gave it a good stir and let it steep for a few minutes before pouring it through a very thin flour sack towel to strain the lavender and blueberries out of the syrup. Then, I let it completely cool in the fridge before making the Honey Lavender Dream.
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon culinary lavender
- Optional: handful of blueberries
- 2 tablespoons Honey Lavender Syrup
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/2 cup water or sparkling water
- Combine all ingredients and microwave for 3-4 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Allow the lavender to steep in the syrup for an additional 15 minutes.
- Then, strain the lavender & optional blueberries from the syrup.
- Allow it to completely cool.
- Store in fridge for up to a week.
- Fill a glass with ice, add drizzle a couple tablespoons of Honey Lavender syrup, add the cream, and top off with water.