The Night Country: A Hazel Wood Novel is the sequel to The Hazel Wood, both by Melissa Albert. (See my previous post on The Hazel Wood here!). I love the Hazel Wood books’ dark take on the fairy tale world, and truly, both novels have provided some strong fantasy escapism.
The Night Country Review
After finishing The Hazel Wood, I learned that a sequel was going to come out on January 7, 2020. I was so excited to finally get my hands on this novel because I really became enamored with the Hinterland world’s elegant darkness. The Hazel Wood left me with a similar unsettling yet somehow satisfying feeling as to what I felt after reading the actual Grimms’ Fairy Tales stories for the first time after only seeing the bright and bubbly Disney versions.
In that respect, The Night Country certainly did not disappoint! It is filled with unique fantasy that is anything but idyllic. While the Hinterland continues to meld into the real world, it seems impossible for the two to coexist. For our girl, Alice (known as “Alice-Three-Times” in the Hinterland), the question is whether her story origins bind her to a singular fate tied to the whim of her creator (and author). I loved getting to see more of Alice’s character development as she struggles with balancing the two halves of her identity. She really is an imperfect character, who expresses her anger in a truly chilling way, and you love to see a character that walks the line between good and human most of the time.
I don’t want to give too much away about the book because it is a very engaging read, especially the second half. I will say that if you’ve read the The Hazel Wood and were hoping for more Ellery Finch involvement (like I was), you will find it here. We also see a bit of evolution on his end that takes him from a bit annoying to admirable.
My only criticism of this book is that it’s a bit hard to follow at times. The chapters are short, and each chapter alternates between Alice and Finch’s perspectives. This is usually my ideal story set up, but something about the organization here had me rereading pages sometimes because I felt I had missed something. That could totally also be just a me problem though. At any rate, do NOT let that discourage you from discovering the Hinterland world!
Why Waffles with Ice Cream?
Okay, so I know this might seem like a weird match to most people. However, these books are not very food-centric, so I’m left to my own imagination and discretion in deciding a sweet treat pairing.
Coffee is everywhere in these books. Like, nearly every chapter has a mention of coffee. The author, Melissa Albert, clearly loves the stuff, and so do her characters. Also, the only real meal we see the characters sit down to eat seems to be breakfast. When I reviewed The Hazel Wood, I did coffee cake pancakes because I wanted to pay homage to both these elements. I’m going with a similar idea here with a little bit of an extended rationale.
In Chapter 17, Alice and her friend and fellow story Sophia, a girl who can never die, meet at a diner for breakfast. The action is starting to really get going at this point, and Sophia serves as Alice’s connection to the Hinterland society living in NYC for most of the book. At the diner, Sophia orders a feast:
When the waitress came, Sophia revived a little, ordering chocolate-chip waffles, and mushroom omelets and Canadian bacon for the both of us. I could already see her calculating how to get away without paying the bill.The Night Country, Chapter 17.
After reading that, I got a serious craving for chocolate chip waffles. But the waffles alone did not seem to be enough. I really wanted to incorporate coffee again since it’s so heavily mentioned. Then it came to me, a way to use coffee and reference the icy side of Alice’s identity–coffee ice cream. Pairing them together doesn’t seem that strange to me because waffles topped with ice cream is my husband’s traditional birthday breakfast. And who doesn’t like dessert for breakfast?
Chocolate Chip Waffles Recipe
I pretty much followed this recipe to the letter, and it came out great. The waffles were soft, though (which isn’t necessarily a negative). I’m still searching for how to create crispy, but not crunchy waffles, so if you have any recipe suggestions on how to achieve that, drop them in the comments below!
Chocolate Chip Waffles
- waffle iron
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ cups chocolate chips mini chocolate chips work best
- 4 cups buttermilk
- 4 eggs
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or more to your taste
- Whisk together all dry ingredients except for chocolate chips. Once combined, add in the chocolate chips and mix to coat them in the flour mixture.
- Separately, mix together wet ingredients.
- A bit at a time, add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix together until combined and smooth.
- Spray preheated waffle iron with nonstick spray, and cook batter to your waffle iron's specifications.
Homemade Coffee Ice Cream Recipe
This recipe is seriously awesome. Ice cream makers are awesome. We got ours for our wedding back in January 2019, and this is the first time I’ve ever used it. I really don’t know why. It’s so easy to use, and there really isn’t anything like homemade ice cream. I’ll definitely be breaking out the ice cream maker regularly this summer!
Coffee Ice Cream
- Cuisinart Ice cream maker
- Hand blender (optional)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp instant coffee for a stronger coffee flavor, add a bit more
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Ensure the freezer bowl is frozen. No liquid should be heard when you shake it.
- Mix together milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. I recommend using a hand mixer here to speed up the process.
- Once sugar is dissolved, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
- Cover and refrigerate mixture for at least 30 minutes.
- Turn on the ice cream maker, and slowly pour in the mixture. Let the machine run for about 30 minutes.
- Enjoy straight from the machine, or freeze for about two hours for a more solid texture.
Do you have opinions on The Night Country or The Hazel Wood? Did you try out these recipes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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