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…
Warnings: physical violence, body horror
The way The Hazel Wood ended in its extended epilogue-like conclusion, there was already a setting awaiting for this sequel. Alice, now living with her mother back in her world, is still having ties to Hinterland intact in the form of the friends she made, one of them being Sophia. Like Sophia, many other ex-Stories who have come to this world are adjusting to their new life, while also longing to return back to the Hinterland or something like it, since it is dying. Alice choses to live a ‘normal’ life – complete school, go to college and stuff, but the other ex-Stories don’t approve of her dulling her edges, especially their new charismatic leader, Daphne; they live in New York, but also apart from it. When some of them start getting murdered in mysterious ways, Alice is dragged back into their world.
“We were predators set loose in a world not made to withstand us.”
The story starts off with Alice’s new life, living apart from the ex-Stories, but still worried that some parts of Hinterland will never leave her. Being a fairly monstrous character in her tale, and having been saved from her fate by Ellery, she wants to bury her propensity for violence. But with a new threat against ex-Stories rising, she feels easier to give in. Her struggle with her nature, an what she is, is done quite well in this book. Further in the novel, Ellery starts coming up with his story, as he travels the Hinterland and beyond, while also questioning why he never felt at home in New York. Fact is, both are sort of yearning for each other, but also remember that their paths had taken different routes. The parts of the bigger picture emerge from both their PoV, as the plot digs deeper into another dark tale about how the worlds are created.
The dark fantastical nature of the novel is retained even in a city setting, and the writing creates the tension well, especially in one scary scene on the subway, and one where Alice faces someone from her story. The slow building plot brings us a good conflict, and an antagonist who is much scarier in goals. The ending was nice, and unlike the earlier book, didn’t stretch too long, and it feels complete enough, though there are a couple of things unresolved. Overall, it was an immersive and delightful read.
Is it diverse? PoC main character
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Flatiron Books, via Edelweiss.
Previous book in The Hazel Wood series
Released on January 7, 2020