The Night Country by Melissa Albert
Penguin Random House UK, 2020. ISBN: 9780241370285.
(Age: Young Adult/Adult). Recommended. The Night Country, sequel to Melissa Albert's 2018 debut The Hazel Wood, is a dark and twisted tale of murder, friendship and the search for belonging. Part fairy tale, part urban fantasy, part horror, this book is recommended for older teens and adults. The Night Country continues the story of Alice Proserpine, the former fairy tale character or 'Story' after her escape from the realm known as the Hinterland. Alice enrols in high school, gets a job at a bookstore and tries to put the past behind her as she navigates life as a teen in New York City. Her attempt at normalcy soon derails however when former Hinterland residents begin to gruesomely die and Alice becomes the chief suspect. Forced back into a world that she tried to forget, Alice begins a desperate search to find a murderer, save her friends and prove her innocence.
The Night Country is also the story of Ellery Finch, Alice's former classmate and love interest. While Alice fled, Finch remained behind in the Hinterland; trapped in a world that is disintegrating around him. Desperate to return to both New York and Alice, Finch embarks on his own perilous journey of understanding as he tries to find his way home. The narrative alternates between Alice and Finch's viewpoints, weaving their story lines together and culminating in a clever climax and conclusion.
The Night Country is a unique but very enjoyable young adult novel. Albert's macabre take on the fairy tale genre may be unsettling for some younger readers but, ultimately, The Night Country is a bloody and brilliant conclusion to Alice and Finch's story. Themes: Fairy Tales, Death, Identity, Love, Friendship, New York City.