“If you ever have chance to bear witness to a dying world, don’t,” (Albert 115).
It’s been two years since I read Melissa Albert’s debut The Hazel Wood and for the most part I enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for fairy tales, the darker the better and Albert was able to keep the tropes and darkness of fairy tales while also turning them into something completely new. Something with blood and teeth, something that sticks inside your brain, that beckons you forward into the dark. I’m also a sucker for books where characters travel into the fictional stories they’re reading, and it was one of my main criticisms for the book. So when I heard about The Night Country I was hesitant to read it because of that disappointment. But with more and more reviews coming out praising The Night Country I knew I had to read it for myself.
But with a two year gap between The Hazel Wood and its sequel, I was bound to forget some things. Some things were easy to remember, like Alice and her anger and Ellery Finch (I still hate the name Ellery, I mean, it rhymes with celery) and leaving the Hinterland to our world. But the most important thing I forgot was how good a writer Albert is. Her words flow with such precision that it’s impossible not to get sucked into their current. I fell into this story, the magic, the darkness, the world and enjoyed getting lost deeper and deeper into the mystery of The Night Country.
The Night Country follows Alice trying to adapt to a human life in New York City after being saved from her story in the Hinterland by Ellery Finch and the other lost Hinterlands are trying to do the same though are having much more difficulty. But suddenly the Hinterland people are being found dead one by one, a piece of their body gone with their lives and whoever it is wants Alice, so Alice decides it’s time to find out who wants her and the other Hinterlanders dead, and why the killer is taking parts of their body and for what purpose. Meanwhile in the now changed Hinterland Ellery Finch has his own adventures as he meets a mysterious travelling woman who promises more worlds he can visit, but Ellery only has one world he wants to return to.
Albert’s writing alone made it easy to get lost in Alice and Ellery’s stories and the darkness her readers love so well. After two years it was easy to get back into Albert’s world, it felt like going right back into the story as if two years hadn’t gone by at all. Alice and Ellery are both such strong characters and I loved the new Hinterland characters we met like Sophia, I can’t wait for Albert’s Tales from the Hinterland when we will finally get to read and learn more about the Hinterlanders as well as what the end of Alice’s Hinterland story is (IF SHE DOESN’T INCLUDE THIS I WILL SCREAM!).
While The Night Country was an incredibly strong book and a great story to get lost in, it had some issues. Despite being called The Night Country we don’t learn about what “The Night Country” actually is until very close to the end of the book. I also found Daphne’s identity to not be the exciting reveal Albert planned and hoped for a little more in the climax. In that way it’s similar to my opinion of The Hazel Wood, I waited so long for the climax, for the Hinterland and discovering who was killing the Hinterlanders and was left wanting just a bit more from both.
But I won’t let that small disappointment make me question Albert’s books again. I will read anything she writes just so I can get lost in those words, she’s a Spinner of her own though I think kinder than the ones she writes and I can’t wait to see what other stories she spins, how many more worlds she’ll create.
Publication: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 331 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, YA,
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“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…”