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 pixie-dust drug trade runs rampant, and more young girls go missing. Looming in the shadows is a 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.
©2012 Kate Danley (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I didn't know what to expect as I was reading the first chapter. But the author creates a world where the characters from the fairy tales we grew up with interact in unique and unexpected ways. The Woodcutter is on the archetypal hero's journey: think Odysseus meets The Hobbit! It's really kind of fascinating!
The Woodcutter keeps the peace between the fairy realm and the human realm. He comes upon a body and knows that something is very wrong so he takes his ax and goes into the woods to right whatever has upset the balance.
Evil queens, false princesses, a fairy dust harvesting business.... things are not okay in the realm.
Reviews are all over the place for this novel. I fall mostly on the side of the positive. Danley's narrative distance seems to bother some people — while the novel stays with the Woodcutter, the story is told from a storyteller narrator. There is a clear difference between the character and the narrator, even if the narrator is not in the story. Although we get in his head, the thoughts aren't expressed in the Woodcutter's voice and I'll hazard a guess that those who disliked felt put off by the narration style even if expressed differently, i.e. not having fully realized characters, etc.
I'll disagree in that I found I sympathized with the Woodcutter, cheered for him, was disappointed when he seemed to be loosing. I liked Jack, and a felt horrible for the pixies. No, I felt nothing for the evil queen, yet I had good image of who she was. One dimensional, yes, but it fit the story - this was a fairytale, closer to a true folktale than perhaps most other 'retellings' and 're-workings'.
Daniel uses the devices of folktales and fairytales - repetitions, the power of names, the deals and word-games, the power of love and decency, all to an enjoyable effect. Danley has taken tales we know well - Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Three Billy-Goats Gruff etc., and mixed them with lesser known stories, and tossed in a little mythology to boot, and then managed to created a cohesive story that wasn't about any individual fairytale, but about how a world maintained a balance between forces. And when that balance was tipped enough, how it cascaded towards destruction. But the grace of the good storytelling here was the Woodcutter's own story. His love, his world, and what he would do to set things right.
The Woodcutter isn't perfectly executed, but it works more often than not. It takes a certain amount of patience to adjust to the style and to understand the world of the novel — again something that some readers may not have because we are now used to a certain styles of narration and this feels like a throwback. There was a point when I found myself just enjoying being told a story. Yes - the adage 'show don't tell' is probably something critics will toss around as a weakness because Danley doesn't always do that, but again, I think here it works.
And strangely, by telling the story, Danley paints a wonderful portrait of the world with her words. There are moments of true poetry. Moments that made me stop and go back to hear it again. Color was huge in the story and Danley used it masterfully at times. Again, fitting considering the material she was working with. Sometimes it is good to just be told a good story.
The narration worked and the story may work best as a story being told. Coomes voice did a good job a creating characters recognizable by her tone, inflection, accent and rhythm.
Hello, I'm a Seattle native, former ESL teacher and Spanish interpreter. I'm into photography, mycology, nature, camping, art and music.
Of our best loved classic fairy tales re-imagined...
The underlying rules, the roles played by each character now bent to a new tale. A lush and lyrical fairy tale that will have lovers of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson nodding to themselves as they recognize the scraps used the make this lovely quilt.
if you don't fancy yourself a critic ... and like the idea of hearing fairy tales again...then a clever rambling story combined with a terrific narrator made this a favorite listen ... and not at all ironically, great to fall asleep to !
I really enjoyed this story, a rehashing and a nice interweaving of classical fairytales. The characters were unique, their desires understandable, the world an exciting mix of familiar and new.
But the narration really threw me out of it. The narration was over done the ENTIRE time. For critical moments, it would have been fine, after listening it to hours and hours, it really wears down on a person. I found I couldn't take this story very seriously, because I found the narration for baffling.
I want to recommend this so much, but I can't recommend the narration.
As a reader, I don't really enjoy so-called "info dumps" where the writer tells you everything you need to know in one long go. As a writer, I know how hard it is to avoid info dumps, because there is so much the reader needs to know to properly appreciate the story. As a reader of THIS story, I wish that the writer had done MORE info dumping, or found a way to do the same thing. I got to the end and still wasn't sure what was supposed to have happened in the story I'd just read.
The story is about a Woodcutter. He lives in the woods. He carries an axe. But he doesn't cut wood. Instead, he goes about interacting with a dozen-or-so different characters from different stories, tied together only by the presence of the Woodcutter. The author tries for a grand story-arc with a spectral hell hound and a dastardly plot by a one-dimensional villain who is only marginally involved with the story, but really, it reads more like a series of short stories all featuring the same protagonist. There are whole chapters where the first thrust of the book, the hell hound who sucks down people's souls, is forgotten, and the Woodcutter makes the current chapter's character's problems his one-and-only aim. Okay, I can get behind that. I enjoy fairy tales and this book had a unique spin on a couple of them, most notably Red Riding Hood and the presence of fey blood in the royal lines. What I didn't get was what happened at the end, when the author tried to take the dozen short stories and tie them up in a bow with a whizz-bang of a grand finale, that was over before it had scarcely begun. I'm still not exactly sure how the hell hound fits in, or which of the one-dimensional villains is the real villain, or even what their names are. The final exposition in which events are explained so that those of us who don't live in the Woodcutter's world can understand them is missing, which is doubly frustrating in audiobook format since one can't flip back through pages to connect the dots on one's own. And speaking of the Woodcutter's world... this is the situation in which an info dump would have been extremely helpful. There are references constantly made to 12 kingdoms (13 kingdoms by the end of the book, plus a duchy that wasn't part of the kingdoms. At least at first. Maybe it was by the end? That part was confusing). And yet, for all the many mentions of the 12 kingdoms, I still don't know anything about them, save that they have some sort of pact with the fairy realms. Why include twelve? Why not five? Or twenty? There is no logic imparted, no geography, no significance at all...save that they are mentioned often. It is frustrating in the highest degree to have a tantalizing world (and it is tantalizing, I would not be so upset with the book if the world weren't interesting enough to have whetted my appetite for it and then not followed through on the promises made), and not to get to see more of it than the tiny glimpses offered.
The narrator was a confusing choice. Sarah Coomes does a good job, but, well... she's a woman. And the main character, the character whose point of view is all we see and whose voice is the one we hear while describing his adventures... is male. You see the problem. There are many, many excellent male narrators out there. Why choose a woman to be a man's voice?
On the whole, promising, and a good read for a long road trip, one where you can listen all the way through in one go and maybe keep track of the characters that way, rather than go hours between listens and forget who each of the characters is supposed to be and why they're important.
I thought that was amazing as Kate Danley managed to bring dozen fairytales with numerous characters combining into many small of the cast along with The Woodcutter as one story. The Woodcutter is a compelling character with great honor, kindness and bravery!
At the almost very ending when all Woodcutter friends join him in celebration after all his troubles.
The two scenes with Oberon and Titania (king and Queen of The Fey) were both beautiful described… I literally could envision in my mind as I listened The Narrator.
Yes I actually did listen during one day. It was a beautiful story and the chapters are pretty short.
I loved Sarah Comes' voice !!! She has such a pleasant voice, plus her accents French and I guess I should Slavic (could be Russian or another slavic country) were really good. Her voice males were also well done. She has done an excellent job, I guess I should look for any of her work as a narrator. Now more about the book: although this is based upon numerous fairytales and a tiny bit of Norse Mythology, the author took her imagination to blend in many well known fairytales: Snow White, Red Ridding Hood, Jack and The Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Rumpelstilskin, Beauty and The Beast and other less famous. I must say this isn't one of those sweet Disney Fairytale either, THERE ARE SOME VIOLENT DEATHS… BUT NO SEXUAL CONTENT. In truth most original fairytales have death or some bad moments.. so in my opinion if your child can accept death in stories this is an excellent book that shows the bravery, generosity, compassion and endurance of the hero, The Woodcutter. Now unless I'm mistaken its never revealed his true name… although some characters do try to find out his name. The Woodcutter plays the part of hero, but also of a detective and in someways of a sort of godmother?!?! I guess its pretty clear I loved the book…almost wish there's a sequel but I'm also happy with the standalone book. I totally recommend it ! Enjoy it !!!
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