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.
I admit that I’m biased towards this book. Partly I got it on Kindle Unlimited (free book!) and partly because this fantasy/fairy tale re-imagining is the kind of book I love. And I did love this book.
The world building was really interesting, with the twelve magical kingdoms and the human world, as well as what the Woodcutter’s role was in all this. I loved how the job of the Woodcutter was passed on and his yearning for a child of his own, yes part of that was because he knew his wife wanted a child as well, but it made him just a little bit more human especially since he seemed to straddle the human-fairy barrier. The fairy tales co-existing together in the Twelve Kingdoms was a really clever idea of how to move them into the same world without having to worry too much about having several princesses and princes in them.
Part of the worldbuilding that worked well was the magic. Magic has to have rules in a fantasy world, if someone could do anything with magic with no consequence then you wouldn’t have much of a world at all. Things like the effects of pixie dust (especially on humans) and the Woodcutter having to bargain for his three axes from the River God (risk vs reward) were the little details that I loved.
The actual plot was good, the mystery kept building up throughout the book. For the most part, I thought that the plot was easy to follow and coherent. However I did think that it tried to squeeze too many fairy tales into one book. For the most part I appreciated this but sometimes I feel like the book was trying too hard to fit so many fairy tales in that it didn’t do quite enough justice to the already existing ones. I would love a few more stories focusing on some of the other princesses that we come across.
If I could, I would give this book four and a half stars because it doesn’t quite make five stars for me (I know I’m so picky). Four stars because it was a little slow at some parts and it wasn’t quite as easy to read as I would have liked.