The Woodcutter by Kate Danley
The Wood is a magical place full of Fae creatures, some of whom wish to harm and others who wish to help visitors. The Wood is taken care of (he doesn't really rule) by the Woodcutter, who whispers to the plants and has never felled an unwilling tree. His other duty is to maintain the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Men and the Realm of the Faerie. Things are amiss when he discovers a maiden murdered in the woods. Her glass slippers are chipped but she has no other injuries. Was she frightened to death? The Woodcutter must solve the mystery since she was fated to marry a prince from one of the Twelve Kingdoms. More trouble arise. He discovers another maiden being stalked by one of Odin's hellhounds. Pixies being harvested for their potent dust (a mythical parallel to the drug trade). All the while, the Woodcutter longs to return to his wife and provide for her a son who will one day inherit his duties.
The story starts slow but builds up to a good conclusion. Where it really shines is its masterful blend of a myriad of fairy tales and myths. These elements are woven together quite seamlessly and to great effect, reminding me of the first half of the Broadway musical Into the Woods. The material is familiar but well-written and has enough differences to make it feel fresh and enjoyable. The Woodcutter is a quick and delightful read.