by Kate Danley.
This was an impulse buy during one of Amazon’s holiday Kindle sales, and I’m so glad I got it. It’s the story of The Woodcutter (as you might guess), a seemingly simple woodsman who despite the name does not actually chop wood for a living. Instead, he is tasked with maintaining the peace between the world of Men and the world of Fairy. He’s a denizen of The Forest, which seems to be the kind of nexus where the two worlds meet and the start of Fairy. He wants to live quietly and peacefully with his wife, perhaps raise a child or two to pass on his mantle. But of course that’s not to be. It starts with a body – a fair maiden with chipped glass slippers, mysteriously murdered. His search for the killer leads him into a whole tangle of otherworldly plots and mysteries, all adding further upset to the delicate peace between the two worlds. Someone is doing their best to take over the kingdoms of Fairy and Man alike, and is up to The Woodcutter to stop them.
Honestly, this started a little slow for me. But once I got going, and caught on to the set up of the world, I really enjoyed it. The author has taken pieces from classic fairy tales, Aesop’s fables, Norse mythology, Celtic/English tales of the Fair Folk, and more, and woven them into something new. The end result is at once epic and provincial, and I mean that in a good way. The tales within the tale all have the feel of a story you’d hear at bedtime or by a fire, and yet the scope of the whole is world-spanning (as far as the world in the book). The author’s take on The Woodsman was very unique. He is tied to both worlds, but not really of either one. He’s at once gentle and powerful, and takes his job very seriously. His character ties the whole thing together. It is The Woodsman who goes questing for answers, and meets and enlists and clashes with all of these other characters. There are appearances by Odin and Titania and Snow White and Jack of the beanstalk and a whole host of others. But it is not all whimsy and happy endings. There are murders and slaves and drugs and heartbreak. And of course, the ultimate plot he needs to stop.
There were some spots where the transitions between scenes or quests was a bit abrupt and jarring. But overall, it’s just a really distinctive and enjoyable read. If you are a fan of fairy tale re-imaginings, definitely give this a try.