The Hazel Wood is unlike any other book I’ve ever read, which of course means that it left me desperately craving more books just like it. I’m not sure there are any books just like it, but I’ve compiled this list of books that fulfill at least some aspect of that brief.
Books Melissa Albert Cites as Inspirations
The Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Albert has said that her favorite Grimm fairytale is “The Juniper Tree.” This tracks. It’s one of those stories that makes you wonder if our use of the word “grim” really is somehow related to the brothers (it is not), and also reminds you just how much history hates a stepmother.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Magicians (series) by Lev Grossman
I couldn’t get into the first book, because Quentin is the most unlikeable narrator of all time, but I am absolutely bonkers for the portal fantasy–within-a–portal fantasy set-up, so I am going to give this series another go.
Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels (I recommend starting with The Big Sleep and then immediately reading The Long Goodbye.)
Although The Hazel Wood is not really anything like a Philip Marlowe novel, Albert has mentioned Chandler’s writing as a master class in craft, and I have to agree with her. The writing—and specifically Alice’s voice—is one of the best parts of The Hazel Wood, and it bears a strong resemblance to Chandler’s best writing.
Every Heart A Doorway (series) by Seanan McGuire
What happens to children after they come back from a portal world? This ongoing series explores the trauma children would feel, well into adulthood, if they were unable to go back to their Narnia.
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth (October 23)
Six years after they return from their portal world, one sister desperately wants to go back, and when she disappears, the sister who wanted to live in the real world has to figure out whether she found her way back.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
This father-daughter Caribbean folktale portal fantasy sounds AMAZING.
Labyrinth Lost and Bruja Born (July 5) by Zoraida Cordova
In Labyrinth Lost, a young Bruja tries to rid herself of her powers but instead accidentally sends her family to Los Lagos and has to go rescue them. The upcoming second book in the series, Bruja Born, is not a portal fantasy but also sounds amazing.
Wintersong and Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones
A sibling kidnapped by goblins is all it takes to convince me to read a book.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Considered by many to be the definitive feminist retellings of classic fairytales.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Considered by many to have joined The Bloody Chamber in the top ring of feminist retellings of classic fairytales.
The Bear and the Nightingale (series) by Katherine Arden
Arden draws from Russian fairytales for this story, which I bought on Melissa Albert’s recommendation.
The Jumbies (series) by Tracey Baptiste
I’m reading this Caribbean folktale middle grade fantasy novel right now and I LOVE IT.
Other Fantasy Stories, Not Easily Categorized
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
I love changeling stories, but I cannot read (or watch, or think about) stories featuring child harm, so I have not yet read this book…but I hear it’s incredible.
Maybe these are portal fantasies? Maybe they are something else entirely? They’re definitely haunting me.
The Girl From Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
This is a time travel fantasy, and because of that it shares a lot of elements with portal fantasy. It’s also amazing.
More Books in The Hazel Wood Series
All that is currently known is that this will be another novel taking place in the same universe as The Hazel Wood.
Tales From The Hinterlands (2020)
Yes. It’s true. The fairytales of Althea Proserpine will be published in their own book. I DON’T WANT TO WAIT.
Need even more books to tide you over? Check out 100 Must-Read Fairytale Retellings for Adults and YA Readers.