The Hazel Wood Summary & Study Guide

Melissa Albert
This Study Guide consists of approximately 66 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Hazel Wood.
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The Hazel Wood Summary & Study Guide Description

The Hazel Wood Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Albert, Melissa. The Hazel Wood. Flatiron Books, 2018. Hardcover.

The novel begins with an excerpt from Vanity Fair explaining the mystery behind the author of a book called Tales from the Hinterlands named Althea Proserpine. The narrator calls this person her grandmother and explains that she and her mother, Ella, have been living on the road for years. As a child, she was temporarily kidnapped by a red haired man who claimed to be a fan of Althea who she believed might be her father. However, when police found her, Ella claimed to have never seen the man. The narrator says that she was 17 when Althea died and her mother was overjoyed. Instead of claiming the estate that was theres, they head to New York where the narrator reveals her name: Alice.

Alice explains that she and her mother had always been plagued with bad luck, and her mother believed Althea’s death would stop it. However, less than a year after settling in New York, Alice knows that Ella’s marriage is falling apart. At her job, Alice sees the red haired man reading Tales from the Hinterlands, but he leaves before she can confront him. It is revealed that after Althea wrote her novel, she moved to her Hazel Wood estate and was never seen again. Ella spent 14 years at the estate before escaping with Alice. At home, Alice hears her stepfather Harold yelling at Ella. When Alice confronts him, Ella tells her to leave. Ella later joins Alice in her room and says that she married Harold because it felt good to have a normal life.

On the way to school the next day, Alice’s step-sister Aubrey tells Alice that Harold is planning to divorce Ella. At school, where Alice is one of the few students who is not a direct child of wealth, she attends drama class to see that Audrey has left. This means Alice is paired up with one of Althea’s biggest fans: Ellery Finch. Finch is one of the wealthiest people at the school who clearly has a crush on Alice. After class, he asks to see her again outside of class and Alice agrees despite being confused at how she feels about him.

After school, Alice waits for Aubrey and the car, but neither come. As she walks home, a cab drives up to her and the driver tries to get her inside. She runs home. There, she finds the home empty and reeking of an unfamiliar stench. She tries calling her family, but no one answers. In her own room, Alice finds an envelope on her bed with nothing but her name. Inside, is the title page from the Tales from the Hinterlands titled Alice Three-Times. Alice runs to the building where Finch lives, and he welcomes her upstairs without question as his family is not home. He agrees to help her find her grandmother’s book. Alice and Finch return to Harold’s home, but he pulls a gun on them. Audrey briefly explains that they were all kidnapped when Harold demands Alice leave.

Finch wonders if Ella was taken to the real Hinterlands. Alice asks Finch to tell her about the story of Alice Three-Times. He explains that Alice Three-Times was a princess born with black eyes to a queen that despised her. She grew rapidly at random times, and eventually had the body of an adult while still technically being a child. Because she tormented her other siblings, her parents were excited to marry her off. Alice demanded that potential suitors bring her ice from a cave far away and killed anyone who did not succeed. However, the two men that brought her the ice said they were going to make her a slave instead of a wife. Alice then swallowed the ice and froze. The men took her away, and she revived and killed them before beginning her trip home. Finch then stops before the ending. They then see a woman Finch calls Twice-Killed Katherine drain life force from a man. As they run, Finch tells Alice that Katherine does not kill women, so Ella is safe.

They arrive at a friend’s house where Alice and Finch share the same room. Finch wonders if the Hinterland actually wants Alice and not Ella. The next day, they head to a bookstore claiming to have the Tales from the Hinterlands. However, when they arrive, the store owner finds a picture of Finch and Alice in the book and accuses them of swindling him. He kicks them out and Alice sees more people from the Hinterlands and passes out. When she wakes up, she tries calling Audrey. The latter explains that the people who kidnapped Ella called themselves HInterland and that Ella wanted to tell Alice to stay away from the Hazel Wood. This, however, convinces Alice that that is where they need to go. Finch shows Alice a blog from a woman who attempted to find the Hazel Wood, and suddenly stopped posting the day after she found it. Alice leaves the woman a message, and the woman answers with an address.

When they arrive at the apartment, the woman - named Ness - asks Alice to come in alone. Ness reveals that when she entered the Hinterlands, her partner was killed. Ness refuses to return to the Hazel Wood, but gives Alice a cryptic rhyme that Ness says will allow Alice to enter the Hinterlands if it wants her to. Alice returns to Finch and they rent a car to drive to a town called Birch where Ness had first entered. Alice asks Finch if there are any fairy tales about a door, and he begins telling the story titled “There is a Door that Wasn’t There.” It follows the story of Anya, a 17-year-old whose father is rarely home and mother is always locked in her room. One day, her mother vanishes, leaving behind a pool of blood that Anya is terrified of. However, after her step-mother locks Anya and her sister in their mother’s room and leaves them to die, Anya hears as voice that tells her how to open a door to another world. She uses her sister’s blood to create the door, but it kills her sister when it opens. Once Anya walks through, she realizes she is in the land of the dead. Eventually, she finds three gifts on her sister’s grave, and uses these to convince her father’s new son to create the door with his own blood and let her out. She then kills her father’s new wife, and leaves behind a glass that will allow him to see his trapped son in the land of the dead.

After the story, Alice starts driving. However, Alice is stopped by a policeman claiming that the road is closed because of an accident. Finch stops Alice from arguing with the cop, but as they drive away her anger takes over and she nearly runs them into a tree before swerving back, confused. They drive to a motel and spend the night. When Alice wakes up, she is angry to learn that Finch listened to her talk in her sleep, but refuses to tell her what she said. Outside, they find their rental car filled with water and are forced to wait for a bus that will take them to Birch. Finch finally tells her that she said the words feather, comb, and bone in her sleep. On the bus, after Finch falls asleep, Alice finds those items in her bag.

When they reach Birch, Finch reveals that he made a promise to the people from the Hinterland in exchange for gaining access to the other world. Twice-Killed Katherine and another man approach them with the man grabbing Finch. When Alice refuses to kill herself, the man slashes Finch’s neck and takes his body to the Hinterlands. Alice realizes that Katherine cannot harm her, and Katherine tells Alice that she will kill herself before morning. Katherine then takes her to a place called the Halfway Wood, and leaves. Alive wanders through the halfway wood where she accidently freezes the lake and convinces a monster from the lake to let her cross in exchange for the comb. A little while later, she finds a group of people who attack her, and she kills the leader with the bone that turns into a sword. She leaves that behind and uses the feather to turn into wings and fly toward the Hazel Wood.

When Alice enters the estate, she sees a younger Ella running around and stumbles upon a party where Finch is dancing with a woman that looks like her. After a man throws her out of the party, she finds a room with Althea inside. Althea tells Alice that the later is from the Hinterland, but Ella stole her. An unknown woman refuses to let Althea die until Alice is returned. Alice is then thrown out into the Hinterlands. She runs into a man who is a refugee from earth. He panics when he sees that Alice’s hands have turned to ice. He gives her gloves and she leaves to find a fairy that will take her to a woman named Janet. After doing so, Janet welcomes Alice into her home before giving her a truth serum and asking about Alice’s past. Alice tells her about her journey with Finch, and accidentally tells Janet that she is part of a story. Janet explains that Althea convinced the Story Spinner - the ruler of the Hinterlands who creates the fairy tales - to return her to earth. However, Althea’s novel opened holes between the Hinterlands and other worlds. When Ella removed Alice, the latter also became a pathway. Janet tells Alice to find the Spinner.

Alice leaves and finds a tavern where she tells stories of earth to refugees who have been missing for years. However, they all suddenly leave, and a woman introduces herself as the Story Spinner. She tells Alice that fairy tales are the lifeblood of the Hinterlands, and they continuously repeat. In order to truly escape the Hinterlands, she must make a new ending for her story and break the cycle. Although Alice does not know the ending, she agrees to follow the Spinner. The two bike to a castle where Alice finds many people frozen in time. The Spinner explains that when Alice left, everyone else in her story was left frozen at the beginning of the novel. However, the Spinner then grabs Alice and begins telling her fairy tale, locking Alice back into the story of Alice Three-Times.

Alice experiences her fairy tale from the first person, unable to remember anything before the Spinner put her back into it. However, during the moment when she is going to kill the brothers, the younger one reveals himself to be the red-haired man and convinces Alice to remember her time on earth. The threads of the story try to repair the damage as Alice and the red-haired man try to escape. Finch and Janet arrives, the former revealing that he survived thanks to the refugees. They attempt to leave, when Alice sees the threads at the edge of her story. She begins telling a new story of a girl who set herself free, and opens a hole large enough that she, Janet, Finch, and the red-haired man can escape. They find a refugee camp where Finch reveals that he will not be returning to earth with Alice. Janet tells her to find the Story Spinner again to be let out, and Alice leaves. She finds the Spinner at the edge of a desert, who opens a pathway to earth as Alice’s story is no longer worth telling.

Back in the real world, Alice is found by an old woman who calls paramedics after revealing that two years have passed since Alice went into the Hinterlands. In the hospital, Alice sees Ella who explains that she was locked in an apartment for three days before she eventually traveled to Birch, Unable to enter the Hazel Wood, she took odd jobs until Alice returned. Alice calls Ella her mother, despite knowing the truth. A year later, the two are settled in Brooklyn when Alice sees Janet and her lover at a coffee shop. Janet explains that other doomed princesses began to change their stories and that the Hinterlands is slowly collapsing. She gives Alice the address of a psychiatrist who secretly works with those from the Hinterlands, including ex-stories. Alice meets another girl named Sophia Snow, and the two decide to go to school together. In the final scene, Alice comments on her newly changed brown eyes, and how they look so much like her mother, Ella’s.

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