YA Cafe Podcast / Book Reviews / books

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert podcast cover


Welcome to the YA Cafe, where you’ll find conversations and reviews about Young Adult books for teachers, readers, and caffeine addicts everywhere. On today’s episode, we’ll be talking about The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert with our guest, Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven. Grab a mug of your favorite beverage, friends, and let’s talk books.


The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert podcast cover


In today’s episode…

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is the story of a 17-year-old girl named Alice, who has never been able to outrun her bad luck. She and her mother Ella have had to leave places at the drop of a hat, and Alice has caught occasional glimpses of what is following them. When Alice’s grandmother (a famous but reclusive author of a collection of dark fairy tales) dies, Ella says they will finally be free of what’s chasing them. And no, they’ll have nothing to do with her grandmother’s creepy estate, The Hazel Wood. When Ella is kidnapped, Alice’s only clue is a message her mother is left behind, to stay away from The Hazel Wood. Now Alice must join forces with one of her grandmother’s fans, Ellory Finch, and journey into the very bad luck she spend her life outrunning.


As always, the first part of our episode is spoiler-free. After the break, we dive deeper in book/movie differences and how these affected the telling and reception of the story. We are joined by Brynn Allison aka The Literary Maven, a teacher and blogger from Philadelphia, PA, who also co-founded the hugely successful online community of English teachers known as “2ndaryELA”.


These Show Notes use Amazon Affiliate Links for your convenience.
If you decide to purchase this book, please consider doing so through our affiliate links.
Your support makes this podcast possible.


Episode highlights…



2:30 – Melissa Albert’s writing style

4:13 – “On the table he left an empty cup, a balled up napkin, and a feather, a comb and a bone. The feather was dark gold with a lacy, glass-green tip. The comb was red plastic, the bone must have come from a chicken, but it had the shape of a human finger bone. It was perfectly bleached clean, the trio was laid out like a hieroglyph, a vague pi shape that impressed itself into my brain as I swept it all into my apron pocket.”

6:39 – Finch is our Gatekeeper figure

8:15 – The role of dark fairytales, and their continued relevance

9:50 – Brynn mentions “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates and Feminist Fairy Tales by Barbara Walker… recommends Once Upon a Time and Grimm (TV).


Things We Like a Latte

13:35 – Danielle nerds out about ‘Shave and a Haircut’

14:05 – Brynn recommends some other books for readers of The Hazel Wood. The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless by Marissa Meyer

15:19 – Amanda’s excited for Empty Monsters by Cat Hellisen (Books of Oreyn #6). If you haven’t read this, start with book #1, When the Sea is Rising Red.



18:12 – Finch’s choice and super-uber-fanness.

19:11 – Danielle talks about “Instructions” by Neil Gaiman – a great poem full of instructions for survival in a fairytale. 😉

21:00 – When tourists leave more than footprints {and how we interact with other cultures}

23:45 – Destiny vs. Fate in fairy tales


Want book recommendations delivered to your inbox?
Sign up for the YA Reads Monthly Newsletter!


More ideas and resources for teachers and librarians…


I talk a lot about how teachers can use The Hazel Wood in my original review in the classroom. From being a mentor text to inspiring creative writing, you’ll find a lot of ideas in that post. Brynn also reviewed this book on her blog and talked about classroom applications as well.


Get in touch with us on Instagram and Twitter at @yacafepodcast or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!


Hazel Wood pin




Hosts: Danielle Hall (who blogs at

    & Amanda Thrasher (a booklover extraordinaire)


Guests: Brynn Allison, teacher/blogger @theliterarymaven, and co-founder of 2ndaryELA

Producer: Leila Hobbs

Music: Matt McCammon


Thank you to Macmillan Publishers for giving us a copy of this book for review.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply