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The Woodcutter by Kate Danley
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The Woodcutter (original 2010; edition 2012)

by Kate Danley

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155None76,765 (3.44)8
Member:CurrerBell
Title:The Woodcutter
Authors:Kate Danley
Info:47North (2012), Kindle Edition, 346 pages
Collections:Kindle, Read
Rating:***
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The Woodcutter by Kate Danley (2010)

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I read this book while holidaying in Cypress. I finished it in two days which is a reflection of how good it is. I can spend months reading a book I'm not keen on and have been known to cheekily take a sneak peak at Wikipedia for the synopsis to bluff my way through a Reading Group evening....

The story was beautifully written and at one point I thought to myself it was like poetry. I'm not a fan of poetry normally but the way the story unfolded evoked emotions and reveries which added to the ambience.

The Woodcutter is the guardian of the Wood. He is a powerful man who doesn't seem to covet power - he does what he must. An evil queen is trying to take over the twelve kingdoms and he is the only person who can stop her.

From Snow White to Baba Yaga to Odin, the tale covers many legends and fairy stories of yore. The main characters are fleshed out, the Woodcutters wife waiting at home the only thing keeping him going at times. It blends them to a perfect mix which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This kind of book is the reason I created the book group in the first place! I'm now looking forward to the next book... ( )
  CeriClark | Mar 7, 2014 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a wonderful re-write of some of the classic fairy and folk folks, centering around the woodcutter. The only negative was the very short chapters in the eBook version, some not even a page. If you like fairy tales you will enjoy this. ( )
  Silverlily26 | Jan 27, 2014 |
I finished it, but I'm not sure I really enjoyed it. I'm trying to read a lot of fairy tale retellings, and I was fascinated by this one, but it really ended up being something I just slogged through to see where the author actually went with it.

The style was very off-putting, very distant, I couldn't get a very good read on any of the characters -- most of them didn't even have names! I was looking for the ways that she incorporated the different fairy tales, and that was interesting, but I when I was finished, I was glad to be done. ( )
  srearley | Sep 21, 2013 |
An excellent blend of fairy tales, mythology and the best bloody bits of the Brothers Grimm melded together to create a new kind of magical fantasy. The tale has heart, soul and a workman-like hero who the reader roots for from the first page. A new fantasy classic. ( )
  Librariasaurus | Apr 23, 2013 |
I'm giving this, I think perhaps generously, 3***.

One of the problems with tales of magic is that the magic can sometimes be used to excess -- to the extent that cause-and-effect becomes minimally necessary to the author with the result that plot can simply jump from one episode to another with little actual basis in causality. Combine this with fairy tales -- in which characters are largely archetypal -- and we have characters whose archetypicality makes them of little interest to us.

That's probably a good reason why so many fairy tales are short stories rather than full-length novels. In a short story, the magical weakening of cause-and-effect and the use of archetypal characters need not be a flaw because the magic and archetypicality combine to create a mythical, legendary effect -- an effect, though, which does not carry over throughout a longer piece of prose fiction.

Combining these flaws with a quest novel, in which causality can be so important, only aggravates the problem, and that seem to be the problem here. The only character of any real interest is The Woodcutter himself, and his oft-times magical invulnerability only fails in the conclusion of the novel, where he does at last acquire some real interest -- sufficient interest, I might add, to make the deus ex machina conclusion a bit more acceptable.

Fairy-tale retellings can work. A good example is Michael Buckley's The Sisters Grimm series, but Buckley's success derives mainly from the very realistic relationship between the two sisters, Daphne and Sabrina. Here, too much is centered upon The Woodcutter alone, especially after his wife has largely passed out of the story and the boy Jack has also largely disappeared. Without supporting characters of interest, everything turns on The Woodcutter and his quest, and here the excessive use of magic destroys any real tension in the character development throughout the eponymous hero's quest. ( )
1 vote CurrerBell | Jan 14, 2013 |
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The darkness settled like wings, blocking out the sun and casting the forest into false night.
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"Cinderella is dead and one of Odin's hellhounds as gone rogue. The Woodcutter, protector of peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of Faerie, is charged with finding the beast and returning him to the Wild Hunt. Unfortunately, it seems the forces of evil have other plans. It is a race against time as the Woodcutter travels east of the sun and west of the moon, up beanstalks and down to the bowels of the earth, to unravel a mystery that can only be described as Grimm."--p. [4] of cover.… (more)

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