For the first time ever, Target has failed me. Because this book was part of their bookclub and the reviews on the back were glowing. But it was legit the worst. Sorry Albert.

Like seriously. The premise was so interesting. Mostly people had good things to say. It was 20% off. What could go wrong?

All of it. The whole thing. Ugh. Let me explain.

Albert’s book opens: Alice has spent her whole life on the run with her mom. Her mom doesn’t tell her what they’re running from, but when they stay in one place too long bad things start happening. So they keep moving. And Alice is pretty sure it has something to do with her Grandma. The Grandma she’s never met. The Grandma her mother refuses to talk about, and the one who’s a famous author.

When that one NPR article said this book was good:

Grandma wrote a book of weird twisted fairytales. But the book cannot be found ANYWHERE and every time Alice gets close to finding something about them online, weird things happen. Sounds suspicious if you ask me, Albert.

But they got a letter that Grandma has died so Mom decides that they can chance staying in one place. She gets married to some old rich dude who has a daughter and Alice goes to school in one place for more than like ten seconds.

There’s also this weird thing where Alice can’t remember big chunks of her childhood? She also has a pretty terrible anger problem.

And her Grandma’s fans are crazy obsessive people. One even kidnaps Alice for a hot second as a kid.

But things are great, right? Life has settled down for them. Except when it isn’t.

Alice goes home from school one day and her Mom is missing. And whoever took her left a note behind. It’s the title page from one of her Grandma’s stories. The story of the character who just so happens to be named Alice.

So she ropes her only friend, and Grandma super fan, Ellery, into finding her Grandma’s long lost estate. She’s convinced she can find her Mom there.

Super promising right? I love a good fairytale come to life book so I had high hopes for Albert’s story. When I was a kid, The Sisters Grimm and the Percy Jackson books were my scene. I love that ish. But not if it’s done poorly.

For instance, we spend like 20 seconds in the mysterious other fantasy world. And there is legit, like zero world building or explanations of literally any kind. Which is sad because it seems so much more interesting than the ‘real world.’ And we don’t learn all the stories but we’re supposed to infer things about them and be afraid.

Fam. Fear was not the mood. It wasn’t even interest at that point, I was just annoyed.

And then the ending was incredibly predictable and disappointing.

Which might have been ok, except I hated all the characters. I didn’t care what happened to any of them except Ellery but he was so two demential and trope-y that when I found out about him I was like, yeah ok whatever.

Which is a bummer. I’d heard that people loved Albert and her fairytales. People talked about how they were so different than the classics that taught a lesson. But we only heard one and a half and they both sucked.

Was there a point to the book? Was it that there aren’t always answers and things can be hard? Tbh I don’t  even care. This sux.

Don’t read it. If you’re looking for fantasy, there are so many better options. I’ve read a few, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I would put Exit West on that list. Or if you don’t want my recommendations here’s a list of a ton of other options. Except don’t read Caraval. That one sucked too.