The Night Country by Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood #2
The highly anticipated sequel to Melissa Albert’s beloved, New York Times bestselling debut The Hazel Wood!
In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.
With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home…
I am going to be upfront with all of you and say that I was not a huge fan of The Hazel Wood and gave it 3 stars. Also, not going to lie, but I do not even remember what happened in the second half of that book. But, when this happens with books, I like to give the second book in the series a chance — because you never know — and the next book could be amazing. This was not the case with The Night Country.
Usually, when I forget parts of previous books, the details will come back to me while I read the next story. With this one, I still feel lost. I feel like The Hazel Wood went off in a dark and confusing direction toward the end, and that’s why I couldn’t, or just didn’t, want to remember it. The Night Country had some of those same vibes.
We open up with Alice graduating from high school. She just wants to be a normal girl, but she keeps being followed by an ex “story”. Alice decides that in order for her and her adopted mother to live a normal life she needs to find out what this “story” wants from her. She ends up visiting a place where all ex-stories meet and finds out that some dark things are happening to those that have escaped the Hinterland.
From there, things get twisted — and Alice is so unlikeable as a character, I honestly just didn’t connect or care what happened from there on out. I did, however, enjoy that while this book was all over the place, there were many loose ends tied up in the end — but on the other hand, there were quite a few things left completely unravelled. There is actually a novelette that you get when pre-ordering this book, which discusses what happened to Ellery Finch between The Hazel Wood and this book, and that seems very important to this story. While Alice doesn’t know the story, and neither did I, it still feels like something that should be read before diving into this particular book.
Another thing that may help the enjoyment level of this book is being up-to-date on pop culture, because Melissa Albert will throw in some deep-cut references to other things like Harry Potter, A Little Princess, The Evil Dead, and more, in order to explain things — and guys, I just didn’t know what she was talking about some of the time.
Side rant: When you are a reader of YA fantasy, you expect the book that is labeled as YA Fantasy to be just that, and when it is not that, it’s disappointing. This book felt like it should be more in the classification of YA Horror or YA Crime Fiction with a dash of YA Fantasy — and this is why I feel there should be more overall classification in young adult fiction in general.
In the end, this was another 3 star read for me. If you enjoyed The Hazel Wood, then this one will be worth the read for you, but if you were like me, hoping for more, you won’t find it in this book.