June 5, 2017

Book Review: The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity.

The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown.

But quickly he finds that one murdered maiden is not the only nefarious mystery afoot: one of Odin’s hellhounds has escaped, a sinister mansion appears where it shouldn’t, a pixie dust drug trade runs rampant, and more young girls go missing. Looming in the shadows is the malevolent, power-hungry queen, and she will stop at nothing to destroy the Twelve Kingdoms and annihilate the Royal Fae…unless the Woodcutter can outmaneuver her and save the gentle souls of the Wood.

Blending magic, heart-pounding suspense, and a dash of folklore, The Woodcutter is an extraordinary retelling of the realm of fairy tales.

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to get with The Woodcutter but I was quickly drawn in by Danley's lyrical writing. The chapters are short but the narrative has a mysterious, beckoning quality that, although what's happening isn't altogether clear, I just wanted to keep going deeper and deeper into the woods with our hero, the Woodcutter. Pretty soon, the appearance of familiar storybook characters in unfamiliar circumstances signals the fairy tale nature of this world. Yet the order of things has gone horribly awry, as one by one the fairy tale characters get diverted from their happily ever after endings.  That sounds slightly whimsical, but Danley's Woodcutter is generally grave if honorable.  The theme is one of love and sacrifice overcoming evil.

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