The Night Country by Melissa Albert
Series: The Hazel Wood
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
ARC from Netgalley
| Book Review |
*please be advised that this review contains spoilers for the first book in this series, The Hazel Wood.
The Night Country by Melissa Albert was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. The Hazel Wood was so interesting and unique that I knew its follow up would offer more of the same. In my review of The Hazel Wood, I expressed how the entire book felt like a prologue building up to something much bigger, and that statement felt even more accurate while I was reading The Night Country. This book was darker and twistier that its predecessor, and it has me excited for what’s to come – and I am desperately hoping there is more to come.
This book focuses a lot on ‘stories’ from the Hinterland, how they’re coping in the earthly realm, and who is out to get them. There was a lot I enjoyed here. I especially liked Alice’s new friend Sophia (to quote Alice: As a wingman, she was a mixed bag,) and the way Ellery Finch made his presence known was pure brilliance – not to mention that we actually get his point of view! Iolanthe was also an interesting character, and I like that we got to see Ellery interact with someone other than Alice. There is still an aura of mystery surrounding everyone in Alice’s life; you don’t know who you can trust and even Alice herself is spiraling into a deep darkness. I will say that as far as this story goes, there were times it felt a bit disjointed or meandering, but I was OK with that. It felt indicative of the world I was reading about, and for me, it only enhanced the story.
The standout character in this book for me was Ella. Even though she plays a large part in Alice’s life, I feel like Ella’s always been sort of a backseat character. But with one scene in this book, she catapulted to one of my favorites, and I want to know more about her:
“…I grew up in the Hazel Wood, remember. I grew up in that cracked-up, fucked-up, broken place. Between two worlds. Not of one, not of the other.
“You can’t imagine what it was like, living there with her getting sicker and sicker. And those creatures crawling in from the woods, and me sneaking out, half convinced I was one of them. But that’s—” She took another swallow. “That’s a story for another day.”
It wasn’t. We both knew she’d never tell me the entirety of that tale.
“It wasn’t easy being Althea’s kid, even before we moved to the Hazel Wood. But one thing I’ll say for her, she could spin a hell of a bedtime story. Stick with you for months. Give you nightmares for years.
You can see why I want her story now more than ever!
On a side note, I’m sure I’m overthinking here, but I love the juxtaposition of the two covers – how the one is so clear and sharp, taking place mostly in a world we know – the human world, and then you have the haziness of The Night Country, where a lot less is known. I think it was a great move creatively, and I’d love to know if it was intentional.
I don’t feel like I know where this story is going, and I don’t want to. I want to continue to be surprised. I want things to stay unpredictable. That’s what I love so much, and I just know that I want there to be more! Ultimately, The Night Country is a book I’ll be reading again and again. And as those reads will be via audio, I imagine that will only amplify my love for the story because fan favorite Rebecca Soler is narrating. If you read and enjoyed The Hazel Wood, you’re going to love The Night Country. If The Hazel Wood was a lukewarm read for you and you’re on the fence, I urge you to pick this one up and give it a go. You won’t be disappointed!
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