Title: The Woodcutter
Author: Kate Danley
Publishing Information: November 6, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Mystery, Young Adult, Adult
Series information: Standalone
Format: Kindle, 346 pages
Source: Gifted for my Kindle from Amy (Tripping Over Books)
Recommended For: Fans of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, John Connelly, and intense yet simplistic dark fantasy novels.
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. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
One of the first things I noticed about The Woodcutter was the simplicity yet enthralling nature in which Kate Danley draws in the reader. Those of you familiar with more traditional fairytales will love the language of this novel. In lieu of proper names, the author uses the more ambiguous “Wife,” and “The King,” which set them apart from the named characters in an interesting way. Even The Woodcutter wears his title as his armor, he IS The Woodcutter and that title overpowers all things. In addition to this ambiguity, the novel is also filled with many “moral of the story” moments. The most important of these being that “true love conquers all.” As an avid reader I may have become somewhat jaded in terms of true love and characters who are “meant to be,” but this novel delivers these moments in a different and more subtle way that is reminiscent of the tales of old.
In terms of plot, The Woodcutter was intense yet at the same time very subtle. I was surprise at how dark the novel was, not horror story dark, but just lacking a bit of light throughout. There is much conflict through The Woodcutter and like any epic hero he is forced to work through many different obstacles in order to succeed. The wonderful thing here is that as I stated above The Woodcutter does all for The Wood, he is the protector of the land and that is his priority, on the inside though, he only wishes to return home to his wife to live out his days by her side. This was interesting as the reader was able to see the internal conflict of The Woodcutter and how he worked to meet his vastly different goals.
One of the best things about this novel is that it isn’t just a fairytale retelling, it bridges genre (and age) gaps as is holds so many different elements. Not only is it filled with fairytale elements, there are also significant nods to mythology and traditional folklore, not to mention the bits of fantasy, mystery and horror throughout. As you read you gain more knowledge of the world and characters within it, and therefore you are able to journey with The Woodcutter as he learns about the land he protects.
If I can tell you anything to sway you to pick this novel up as soon as possible, know that Kate Danley’s writing is beautiful. She is a master at words and I found myself reading and re-reading many lines throughout. I highly recommend The Woodcutter to those of you looking for an enthralling and lovely read. Fans of The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly and traditional fairy tales will find this especially lovely.