{Review} THE WOODCUTTER by Kate Danley

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Check out today's interview with Kate Danley!

The WOODCUTTER is available on Kindle for $3.99, 
as well as in paperback form at Amazon, B&N, etc.
What a great deal!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

THE DARKNESS SETTLED LIKE WINGS, blocking out the sun and casting the forest into false night.  A woman no older than sixteen ran through the trees, her white ball gown of gossamer gathered in her hands. 

The leaves shivered in the wind and whispered a warning.  Quietly! Quietly! they spoke.  Though she could not understand their words, her breath caught in her throat, for she heard the clatter of death waiting to fall. 

The beast was nearing.

The earth tried to soften the ground as she flew, to muffle her feet in moss and mud, but it was not quite quiet enough...
(Page 1, US paperback edition)

I've been dreading writing my review of THE WOODCUTTER.  What do I say, how can I word things to tell you just how amazing and nuanced this book is?  Without a doubt, this is my favorite novel of the event.  It was Kate Danley's breakout novel and has rightfully won awards, but it's from a smaller publishing imprint, so you likely haven't heard of it before now.  THE WOODCUTTER isn't a retelling of any one fairy tale, so let's get that notion out of the way now.  Instead, fairy tale characters are woven throughout the text in innovative ways, and readers are invited along as the Woodcutter attempts to solve a sinister mystery with the ability to destroy the world.

I'm about to make the book sound bad with the summary, and it truly isn't.  It's just really hard to reveal anything because there are so many spoilers if I do.  Essentially...
The Woodcutter is an enigmatic figure we don't know much about, though as the story develops and evolves, we learn so much more about him and his destiny.  As the book begins, the Woodcutter has discovered another mysterious death (our beloved Cinderella, no less!), leading him to begin the hunt for the corrupted soul taking innocent lives in his domain.  He goes to the River God and receives three magical blades to aid him on his quest, finds himself caught up in a fairy tale drug ring of citizens smuggling pixie dust, and discovers the truth behind the disturbing murders.  He also crosses paths with several endangered fairy tale characters along the way.

I liked seeing the world through the eyes of the Woodcutter.  He has such a unique destiny, and I enjoyed piecing things together as I read.  Danley has a way of twisting things up and surprising readers.  There's something very satisfactory about this book, but also something that resonates emotionally at its core.  It does take a while to get into the rhythm of the text.  Danley writes brief chapters in a way that reminds me of James Patterson.  I personally hate short chapters.  I understand why people love them and think they're great for reluctant readers or people with short attention spans, but personally, I detest them.  At the same time, it lends an immediacy as things change and move on as the story progresses.  The best part, to me, is the way Danley phrases her sentences.  Her word choice can be quite lovely and unique, and I wanted to savor so many things I came across as I read.

The story was a mix of so many things, original fantasy with a huge heaping of lore.  And not just fairy tale lore, either.  Baba Yaga and Odin make an appearance, for example, and even elements that are new have a very "lore-esque" vibe to them.  There are characters we see in so many tales, yet they serve a new role, such as grandmothers living in the woods.  They operate the way they do in the tales, and yet differently at the same time.  The world-building is layered and I already want to re-read this and discover sneaky additions I missed the first time around.  The tale is definitely darker than many of today's fairy tale novels, as can be determined just by looking at the summary, but so are the original tales.  The mystery and intrigue  kept me guessing, and I'm already anxious to read more from Danley in the future if she continues to write books of this caliber.  If you're looking for something in the genre that's different, THE WOODCUTTER is well worth a second-glance.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Before Danley switched publishers, her cover looked like this:

The first cover reminds me a lot of the recent paperback re-issue of SISTERS RED by Jackson Pearce:

Don't you agree?

I love the gorgeous, intricate blade from the original cover, but I really like the whimsical feel of the new cover, too.  There are many important elements featured now, though you might not realize this before reading.  And in person, the paperback is so soft and velvety, too.  What a finish!  I was impressed.

I'm also a big fan of illustrated covers, so the new one appeals to me in this way as well.  I do like that both covers have tones of green and yellow.  Very woodsy!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Kate Danley
Release Date: Out Oct. 14, 2010,
re-released by 47North Nov.  6, 2012
Publisher: 47North
Received: For Review

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 sinister mansion appears where it shouldn’t, a pixie dust drug trade runs rampant, and more young girls go missing. Looming in the shadows is the 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. 

Blending magic, heart-pounding suspense, and a dash of folklore, The Woodcutter is an extraordinary retelling of the realm of fairy tales.


  1. This sounds like a very unique and intense read! I'm intrigued by the multiple fairy tale characters that show up; I think that sounds like a lot of fun! I'm glad you shared your lovely review because, as you mentioned, I hadn't come across The Woodcutter before. I'll definitely be checking it out now!

  2. I gotta read this one. Just the opening hook is so beautiful. I can imagine how hard it was to write a review on this. But, you did a great job!


  3. This one looks perfect. Thanks for reviewing. That 1st page is SO beautiful I have to read the rest.


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