by Kate Danley
Published by 47North
on October 14th 2010
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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.
You guys. When I started this book, I didn’t know what to expect. It was an impulse buy. It was $3.99 on Amazon. The premise sounded interesting. And I was in a funk and needed some retail therapy. So in the cart it went. Then, somehow, it didn’t flounder in my TBR. I picked it up the next day. STILL not expecting much.
I certainly didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with it and promptly call it my favorite book of the year. The whole year. Like, I’ve already read my favorite book of 2014 and I already know nothing else will hold a candle, favorite book of the year.
No, I am not delusional. I am in love, damn it!
So, what’s so great about this book?
- If you know me at all, you know I love fairy tales. The Woodcutter takes place in a world where fairy tales are real, they continuously play out, and Woodcutter plays his part, as well as watching over this unique world.
- All my favorites are there; Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Baba Yaga, Oberon and Tatiana, (lots of different traditions are covered) but there are also other traditional fairy tale tropes – magic trees, moving houses, pixies and more.
- The best part however, is there is something wrong with this world where everything happens so predictably according to story. The stories are changing. In such brilliant ways. In horrible ways. In ways that just keep you reading. It’s like the Grimm brothers on some dark, twisted shit.
- The writing is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. Seriously gorgeous. So fairy tale faithful gorgeous.
- The best description I can think of; it’s a fairy tale for grown ups, with all your favorite fairy tale characters from your youth.
My favorite character without a doubt was the Woodcutter. His (insert mental picture of me clasping my fists to my head because I can’t think of the words I so desperately want) WAY with his environment; the trees (oh, the trees, my second favorite character), the stories, the pixies, all of it, was simply mesmerizing. He’s such a quiet, unassuming man, but he’s also the hero. Perhaps reluctantly since throughout the book he just wants to go home to his plain, boring, but adored and wonderful wife, but he keeps on. He just keeps on keeping on, doing the job tasked him, because he cares. He cares so damn much. It’s his job, but it’s also something more. It’s his life. He feels like a throwback character to another time to me; when men did what they had to do not only because it was their job but also because it was their passion.
I also loved how all the stories were turned on their heads, so to speak. All the stories change. Red Riding Hood still goes tripping through the forest, but she doesn’t quite end up the way she usually does. Neither does her grandmother. Snow White still flees into the forest with the Hunter, but she never makes it to the dwarves. Rumplestiltskin still goes for a first born, but things don’t turn out quite the way he hopes. Traditionally weak female characters are suddenly empowered. Males find themselves forced into unfamiliar circumstances. And it was all delightful to me. DeLightFul.
Did I mention the writing is gorgeous? Kate Danley really outdid herself with keeping to the traditional fairy tale tropes. The writing practically sings. You know I highlighted a ton of quotes, right? Here are a few of my favorites:
She was who she was, no more, and that was what made her so special.
Winter was fading and the tender touch of spring had caressed the earth, leaving its gift of new blossoms in delicate green.
The absence of glamour was intoxicating. Surrounded by a swirl of other ladies in paired fineries and magicked perfumes, she stood in the firelight with no auras, no spells-just quiet, like an ancient oak rooted deep to the center of the earth.
He took those fingers and held them to his lips, loving them, loving them for loving him, loving them for teaching him how to love.
There are so many more I want to share, but I can’t because they give too much of the story away. I feel like I have been very inadequate in describing this book, but I feel reasonably sure I have conveyed my love for it. If you give it a try, please let me know. I’m dying to talk to someone about it.
I purchased this book through Amazon.com. If you should buy the book through my link, I will receive around 4% of the price in commission.