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 simply did not care for this. I felt it was formulaic and suffered some internalized misogyny. For example, the woodcutter (detective) finds the body of a dead princess and remarks out loud, "What did you get yourself into, girl?"
I did not like the narrator. It was very breathy and forced almost as if it was a fake English accent. I don't know if she really is English, but it sounded like a college freshman who just landed the part of Wendy in a stage play of Peter Pan.
I actually missed my junction because I was so focused on turning this book off. The good news is that I got back on the right highway and also remembered how much I liked the Dresden Files. I listened to Dead Beat for the rest of the five hour car trip. Excellent.
Yes, it made me cry. But I'm not going to tell if those were happy tears or sad tears. Listen for yourself.
If you see any of my other reviews, you’ll start to notice a pattern. I read other reviews. Well, I skim them. I browse through them before and after I’ve read/listened to a book. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of reading, I go through them again wondering if anyone has had the same thoughts that I’m having.
I don’t remember why I picked this one. Probably because I’m DIY renovating and love to listen to books while I work. This was free with Kindle Unlimited with narration.
Reading the blurb, I’m like others who thought The Woodcutter is something that it’s not. (Of course, now I want to write the book I was expecting and random thoughts keep popping into my head about that!)
Other reviewers also mentioned the writing style. It does feel like Kate Danley hasn’t found her own voice. It feels as if she’s borrowing a voice. My suggestion is to listen to it. All the old fairy tales are dry, emotionless things to which you have to add your own responses. Listening to the narration really brings The Woodcutter to life. Although I wasn’t very fond of Sarah Coomes’s voice, she really adds something to the story.
Maybe because I’ve read all those stories in their various forms and I’ve analyzed them for a thesis I could recognize them easily and nothing was confusing. I felt like I’ve been in that forest before and I was returning to a place I called home for a little while. (Also watch, Into the Woods: Stories just seem to revolve around a forest. I remember when I first read Grimms back in high school, I wondered briefly why the characters didn’t run into each other. They were all talking about the woods. They all went on a quest or got lost or whatever didn’t involve staying home.)
What makes The Woodcutter interesting for me is that his character is the wise helper found in many of the fairy tales. He never intervenes. He does his job perfectly allowing the fairy tale to play itself out.
Other reviews complain that the characters are not filled out. In fairy tales, the story is about the plot and the lesson. We don’t need a road map into the hearts and minds of every single character. The Wolf is bad. Red Riding Hood is innocent and naïve. Cinderella lived through a horrible period before meeting her prince. In the original story, we never know why the Evil Queen wanted Snow White dead, other than the fact that she was Evil and jealous. Seriously, Maleficent cursed Sleeping Beauty with death because she wasn’t invited to a party! We don’t bitch at the Grimms for lack of character development.
The main character, the Woodcutter is the one we need to care understand. And I found that I did.
This is a neat place to visit. Let your mind go and just listen. There are a lot of things happening here, but it really is all tied together. If you can follow Game of Thrones (the book, not the show), this is easy peasy. Especially if you’ve already read and re-read all the fairy tales you can get your hands on.
My suggestion as with all things: listen to other opinions, but if you’re interested in something, delve into it yourself and make your own opinion. The Woodcutter is completely worth reading.
When I sat down to write this I didn’t know what I was going to say. The only thing that I could come up with was that it made me cry. And all I thought to write was True love conquers all…true love comes in many forms. It’s the purity of the love that makes it magic.
Ranks right up there due to the perfect match between the story and the narration by Sarah Coomes. We set high standards for those who tell fairytales to adults, and this narrator exceeds them.
Delaney lights up images from the folktales and fairy tales we have heard, then moves us to the viewpoints of different characters than the heroes, all the while weaving an overarching narrative that is disturbing and redemptive.
In the spirit of constant renewal of oral narrative, the author skillfully draws us into the battle between good and evil by activating connections between folktales, crime and substance abuse. While The Golden Compass places Dust at the centre of its sci-fantasy, Delaney deepens the narrative by re-appropriating pixie dust as the substance of harvesting and abuse.
Time is not an issue for me so I did listen to the whole book because of the narrator; and I had forgotten the plots of most fairy tales and wanted to brush up on them for story time with children. Otherwise it would not have been worth the listen time. However, I don't think I am the target audience, so perhaps if you were a teenager it would be.
Yes, The tone of the book is over dramatized in my opinion and never settles into something "comfortable" (and not to argue with myself, but perhaps that's because the editors wanted to convey the dangerous nature of fairy tales? Don't know, but a whole book in danger mode is overdone) . But the narrator does an excellent job at conveying emotion and range, and her tone is comfortable to listen to.
I would not have read the book, so Sarah Coomes made it bearable. After awhile, I forgot what the heck the woodcutter was doing. As soon as one issue is resolved he stumbles into two more fair tale plots. It's as if the author was compelled to cover every fable ever written weather it furthered the plot or not.
I don't think I would try another book by either the author or the narrator. The story failed as a mystery, a fairy tale, and as just a plain old good story. The narrator also does a poor job. It's a female narrator trying to narrate a male protagonist. She does not succeed.
I am not turned off from books in this genre at all. This is one of my favorite genres, but I will be cautious of anything by Kate Danley in the future.
I would have picked a male narrator. Honestly, I don't know who, but anyone with a deep, manly, woodcutter type voice. Not a high pitched whine.
The premise was good, but the execution was lacking.
If the author had developed an internal storyline more than just merging a collection of fables, it would have been intensely more commanding. Unfortunately, I found myself groaning at the "introduction" of each expected character.
No, fables/fairy tales/folk lore is such a rich and imaginative form of literature. I cannot imagine missing out on great extensions of the classics just because this was such a mash up.
I found myself distracted by the attempted character voices.
There is a longstanding tradition in fantasy literature to retell and link together fairy tales. However, it takes more than competent writing to breathe life into this often-used trope. There are some original elements (pixie dust as a drug, for example), but there isn't enough that is new or fresh to breathe life into this story. Nor are there other elements -- exquisite prose, compelling characterization, or vivid descriptions -- that might elevate the story from the mundane to the sublime...or even the moderately entertaining.
I can't speak to whether there's a clever plot that resolves itself in a way that is surprising and yet makes utter sense in context, because Audible's audiobook begins restarting, skipping, and stopping unexpectedly circa chapter 62. (Yes, as other reviewers have observed, there are a distracting number of chapter breaks.) That's it for me; I hereby give up, and plan to return this audiobook, even though it was only $1.99. It's THAT bad.
The narrator uses a breathy, overly dramatic tone, which I found grating, but which probably is the best suited for a story that is trying very hard (if unsuccessfully) to be dreamlike and magical.
For some stories that more successfully spin the straw of tired tradition into gold, you might try:
Mercedes Lackey, _The Fairy Godmother_ (500 Kingdoms series)
Alethea Kontis, _Enchanted_
Adam Gidwitz, _A Tale Dark and Grimm_
and, of course, there's always the ancestor of the mashup subgenre, John Myers Myers's _Silverlock_, originally published in 1949.
There are tons of fantasy novels and stories that focus on one fairy tale at a time. Authors Robin McKinley, Mercedes Lackey, and Tanith Lee come to mind, and there are hosts of others.
If you liked the twists that Gregory Maguire put on classic fairy tales (eg Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister, Mirror-Mirror, etc.) or The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, you might also enjoy this twist-up of fairy tales.
Unlike the Maguire books, in particular, in his story, many (all?) of the Grimm fairy tales are part of the larger story - and twisted. A fun read/listen.
It reads like a fairytale and in this case that is not a good thing. The charm of moderday retelling of fairytales is in the filling out of one-dimensional characters. The premise of this novel is interesting, but all the characters are so one-dimensional it makes it boring.
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