Return to a world where dark fairy tales are more than ink and paper. Where, now free of the confines of their tales, they walk the streets of New York, unconfined but retaining the spirit of the stories.
Welcome back to the Hinterland.
Published: 7 January 2020
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre(s): Young Adult/Fantasy
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…
Blood, violence, stalking, dismemberment
- The various Hinterland characters. As much as Alice tried to stay away, there were still many aspects of the Hinterland that reached out and came into play throughout the story, whether her friend Sophia or remaining Ex-Stories. As terrifying and sometimes horrifying as they were, they were deliciously at home in their creepiness.
- Rebecca Soler, the narrator, played up the bone deep eeriness of the Hinterland, making certain passages even more chilling. She really nailed the various moments where Alice encountered particularly chilling Hinterland aspects, other times when Alice’s emotions were rising and the reader could just feel them along with her. Rebecca’s overall performance was very good.
- The dual point of view perspective which allowed Ellery to showcase his time in non-Earth activities. While not extensive, it was interesting getting to see what he thought, what he felt, what he experienced in the scenes we did get from his travels. The Hazel Wood was very much an Alice book; The Night Country was still mostly Alice, but Ellery got some time which was a good breather.
- Alice and Ella’s relationship: trying to figure out where they stand, now that the truth from The Hazel Wood has been revealed, Alice is graduating high school, her dark past. Where do they stand now? Even with the Hinterland past sneaking in, it’s still an achingly familiar human story, figuring out where you stand when you’re suddenly an adult but maybe not quite but still technically? Such a weird time for some. The navigation of this was probably looser than strictly human parental exchanges might have been, but I think the callbacks will still be familiar.
- The biggest problem I had was the similarity of a major plotline to Jill Wolcott’s from Every Heart a Doorway. I didn’t realize quite how similar the plots were until about 70% of the way through because for the most part, they could have gone in different directions, but when the reasoning was revealed? Whoo boy, way too similar for my taste. I couldn’t shake it and it brought my enjoyment down severely.
- The relationship between Alice and Ellery felt awkward. They’re not in the same world for most of the book which, fine. With that in mind, I thought there was an imbalance of feeling between the two. I could believe that one party did have remaining feelings, but the other? Not so much, so the finale of the book rang a bit hollow.
I think it would be better to read this as close to finishing The Hazel Wood as possible, because for me it has been awhile and I felt like I’d lost some of the connection between Alice’s somewhat traumatic journey in the first book and her trying to find her way in The Night Country. The being said, it was still a good book to read as Alice figures out what it means to be an Ex-Story in the human world when the Stories are still there and possibly trying to pull you back in.
The Hinterland is a deeply intriguing, creepy, interesting place and I would love to read more of its stories someday. I look forward to more of Melissa Albert’s tales.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Libro.fm’s ALC program in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.