Jan 5, 2020

ARC Review--The Night Country by Melissa Albert

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 received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. 

Melissa Albert returns to world of fairy tales that are real with The Night Country! This is a sequel to her debut, The Hazel Wood and it was a most fascinating read! I admit, I did struggle with The Hazel Wood and in turn with this one as well. I think it's because I still feel like I know nothing of The Hinterland, the fairy tale land where all these darker than dark fairy tales live and breathe. Now Melissa is working on the actual Tales of the Hinterland and I think this one will be a great read, one to be read before these two books just for that greater understanding of the world we enter.

Alice has adjusted to her life back in the real world after having been thrown back into her Story and then thrown back out by Finch. Alice is a Story herself. She was a fairy tale character who got to leave her story and live a normal life. The price was Finch's life. He gave up his own life in order for Alice to live after he betrayed her. Now Alice and the other Stories are living in the real world and doing their best to adjust to a new life. But something is happening to the Stories, someone or something is killing them. A Story murderer is afoot and Alice will do whatever it takes to save the few she considers friends, like Sophia.

I truly, truly believe the reason why I continue to struggle a bit with this series is because I do not know the history of these fairy tales! I know that book is coming, but I feel like it's a book we should've had first. It would be like reading a story about Snow White teaming up with the Seven Dwarves to defeat the Evil Queen's secret daughter who wants to take over where her mother left off...BUT you never knew the story of Snow White to begin with! It's like you know there's this huge history between characters, but you are never clued in on what that history is. You just have that feeling, that nagging feeling that constantly haunts you as you read the current novel and deal with those present issues. 

That's how it felt when reading this book and its predecessor to be frank. I did enjoy aspects of the story though. I love a good fairy tale and their retellings, and in some ways this is like a continuation of a fairy tale we never heard of before! You see where I am going with this? Lol. There's that constant adoration you have for fairy tales but when from book one, everything has just felt like a continuation or sequel of a story you never knew before, it can get a little muddled when reading. You still enjoy the story here and there, and just as you find yourself getting into it, it twists a bit and goes back to these strange references you can't quite conceive.

So this book was a bit of a challenge for me, a shame too since it was my first book of the year, my first book of the new decade! Sadly, it was not the life changing, all inspiring thrill ride read I could've hoped for. But I did still like it, so it wasn't a total lost. 

Finch, as you may know from his little short story had you preordered this one, is still around and kicking. Though that novella was more his point of view in The Hazel Wood. Finch is still around in this one too, he's just elsewhere and it seems like he is trying to get back for something terrible has happened in the Hinterland that he calls home. Something that has driven him out of his home away from home.

Being a fairy tale of sorts, I was a little surprised that romance wasn't a key role in this one. It didn't set the story's pace, it hardly played a role in it at all. There were hints and teases of it towards the end, but that was about it. And oddly, I found this a little disappointing! Me! I know! But with fairy tales and retellings/reimaginings/continuations...anything to do with fairy tales basically, you sort of expect romance to be more of a key feature. At least when you were raised by Disney! Lol. Though in most of the fairy tales of old that we read growing up, romance was usually a factor in the story as well, or at least ending with the kiss to end all kisses. Which I guess makes The Night Country a little more perfect too!

One last comment I will make is regarding the murder mystery. It was one I felt like was sort of half baked. It was just a tad confusing in some ways, but I understood it all. I guess it was more so Alice's "investigation" into things that didn't feel fully fleshed out. But yeah, the whodunit aspect was still relatively shocking as I didn't really pin down the murderer yet when revealed, it was sort of obvious in some ways because I wasn't really a fan of this person either! Lol.

All in all, The Night Country was a fun read! I liked the mystery elements and diving a little more into the fairy tale worlds. As I explained earlier, my issues revolved around not knowing the history and origins of the characters and their tales. And since this is a fairy tale kind of read, you'd think that history could've been better conveyed into the story present day just to make things a little easier. That being said, I totally can't wait for Tales of the Hinterland to release!

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

The Night Country releases January 7, 2020


  1. Great review! I have The Hazel Wood, but haven't read it yet. It's hard when you like a book, but feel parts of it are lacking. You just want it to be great in every respect! I will read The Hazel Wood, but maybe I will wait for the book of fairy tales to come out before starting the series.

  2. I haven't read this series yet, and I know what you mean about anticipating a great read and then it doesn't live up to my expectations. I didn't know this had a mystery element to it and I do enjoy mysteries--too bad this part also disappointed you.

  3. I'd like to read both of these books! Alice's adventures sound pretty interesting!


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