The Night Country is a sequel to Meliisa Albert’s stunning debut The Hazel Wood. It opens as Alice is back in the real world and graduating from high school. She has a part-time job at a bookstore and her best friend Sophia is from the Hinterland. There are many escapees from the Hinterland in the area. Alice is more comfortable in the world than other story people, but that does not mean she rests easily in her skin.

Someone is killing story people and killing them in a way that implicates Alice. She knows it is not her, at least she is pretty sure it is not her. However, the people from the Hinterland are convinced she is guilty. She needs to find the killer and solve the mystery before she pays from someone else’s crimes.

Back in the Hinterland, Ellery learns the world of story is disappearing into a void. He travels with a woman who introduces him to the many different worlds and the books that hold them. However, as much as he enjoys the journey, the only destination he seeks is back home and back to Alice

The Night Country is a book for readers. It speaks to the magic of reading. After all, don’t we all enter new worlds when we open a book. Aren’t the writers of books spinners of story?

It has to daunting to write a sequel to a book as thrilling and original as The Hazel Wood. Is there anywhere to go but down?  Well, it turns out you can go sideways. The Night Country a complete surprise. So, I confess when I finished the first book, I did not imagine a sequel. How could there be one? It was so complete on its own, so finished. And yet, here we are with a story as compelling and fascinating as the first.

The story within the story is a wonderful, frightening tale and as grotesque as anything from the Brothers Grimm. Albert excels at describing place and people so the book feels very visual, truly creating other worlds. Albert makes the metaphorical terrifying real and I love it.