28 November 2013

The Woodcutter - Kate Danley

The woodcutter is not a man, but he is not fae either, he is the protector and keeper of the peace between the twelve kingdoms. He lives his life to keep the treaty between humans and fae; he helps those who are lost in the woods and ensures that all the twelve kingdoms remain peaceful. But something is wrong. Little girls are being killed in the woods, pixies are touching the ground and fairy tales aren't going the way they always have. There is an evil plot afoot, and the Woodcutter must be the one to end it.

First off, the one resounding element to this book is a complexly woven fairy-tale narrative. It brings together not only classic stories like the Princess and the Pea or Jack and the Beanstalk, but also that of mythology (and even A Midsummer Night's Dream). This is expertly done, but at the beginning it can be very confusing. One moment, Cinderella is being stalked by a beast, then Red Riding Hood shows up and the next minute the King and Queen of the fairies are riding in. It is a lot to take in, but keep reading and the pace soon slows enough for you to catch your breath.

Next is the characters themselves. The only character who you really get to know properly is the woodcutter, and even then he still seems a deep mystery. We know that he loves his wife, we know that he is calm, solid, and knows exactly what to do... Well, most of the time. The character who I would have liked to see developed was the Gentleman, whose true name never surfaces. I would love to know who he is and what he had to do with the whole plot. Maybe there's a second book coming that I don't know about? The same could be said for the Queen. Why did she embark on such an elaborate scheme.. not just because she was greedy, surely?

The end was really quite breathtaking. The book kept building and building until something had to give, and when it did, it was perfectly poignant. I expected a little bit of blood, but instead the author left out the gore in favour of a beautiful but quiet ending.

A nice book to read, especially if you are a huge fan of fairy-tales and love it when authors mix things up a bit. 7 out of 10.