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.
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.
Irritating drivel and fluff. Terrible exaggerated narration, poorly written, and boring. Avoid this one. Returning it post haste.
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.
Books make the world a better place
What happens when someone or something interferes in fairytales? Well, this is not your typical Disney or Mother Goose story but knowledge of the classic fairytales your mother read you is the absolute key to recognizing characters like Cinderella, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, etc. and identifying their basic fairytale-patterns. Those familiar will appreciate the weaving together of several different tales. In truth, part of the fun is in figuring out the connections and how the author shifts each story from its original telling.
This is a unique book and the twists in Kate Danley’s story of ‘many stories’ take you down dark paths, making The Woodcutter engrossing and entertaining for adults. The plot is well thought out, the writing is fast-paced and there is plenty of action. You can't help but fall in love with the unusual man who is this story's main character and true 'Prince Charming'. Although he does not cut wood he is known simply as the Woodcutter. He understands magic and the balance between the fae and mortals. He is the protector of the enchanted creatures and trees. He struggles to right the many fairytales-gone-wrong, ultimately sacrificing the greatest thing he possesses in order to keep the twelve kingdoms free from the sinister designs of the evil 'Gentleman and Queen'.
It is not hard to see why this book took so many awards, such as the Garcia Award for Best Fiction Book of the Year. It does not disappoint and so I recommend this audiobook as a quick, fun listen for anyone who is grown up but nostalgic for those once upon a time, fairytale days.
I found this book interesting enough to finish, so I gave it 3 stars. I like fantasy and mythology and enjoyed the weaving of traditional fairy tale characters into this mystery in which the Woodcutter plays detective, judge, and executioner based on an eternal agreement between him (and his paternal ancestors) and the Fay, the trees, and the earth. A subtle religious undertone erupts at the very end. The power of the earth, trees, and magic should have been sufficient to effect the happily-ever-after ending without invoking a resurrection. However, regardless of the plot, thematic, narrative flaws, it was the reading that was the worst aspect. This was truly a story to be read aloud, but the characters' voices, especially the woodcutter's, were forced and irritating.
I didn't particularly like the way the book was read. While I thought some voices were beautifully done, overall I found it to be too dramatically read. For almost everything, including the chapter titles, she used a dramatic breathy voice. So I guess the answer to this would be yes, but conditionally.
I liked the way the author played with the different fairy tales and wove them into the story. It was fun to recognize the stories...and yet...not. And to think about some kind of presence in the background making sure everything happens as it should and things don't spin out of control. Except they did...and that is the story :)
The narrator could have chosen her moments to heighten the drama with her voice more carefully.
I don't want to give away any of the good bits. There were lots of moving moments. It is a fairy tale so there is lots of excitement.
Not one of my favorites but it was still very good. To be fair, this is definitely a different audiobook than I usually go for.
She tried but her attempt to do the male voices came off...weird. The Woodcutter's voice was different at times...it had an Irish? accent one minute than it was gone. Sometimes it was scruffy then not. It was slightly distracting. It was more like I was being read to as opposed to immersing me in the story.
I loved how there was a twist to familiar Fairy Tales and how they crossed paths. I mean murder mystery among the happily ever afters?...what's not to like but there were several times that I was confused as to what was going on. I mean why was someone alive that I thought was dead? Without any spoilers, there were several loose ends that I don't feel got resolved. To be fair, I was listening at work and could have missed an important page or two but overall I felt that there was a few holes left to explain.
Her pauses, anguished tones, she made the Woodcutter seem like a real man not a country dolt.
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.
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