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A Reader of Fictions: Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs

Sisters Red

Author: Jackson Pearce
Pages: 324
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Description from Goodreads:
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead. 

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

First Sentence: "Strangers never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged toward them."

Wow. The opening scene of Sisters Red has such an amazing hook. Sisters Scarlett and Rosie are ages 11 and 9 respectively when their family is attached by a Fenris (a sort of werewolf/shifter). Their grandmother, their only caretaker since their mom has taken off, is murdered. The eleven year old Scarlett manages to kill the Fenris in order to protect her baby sister. Flash forward seven years. Both Scarlett and Rosie are hunters, trying to kill Fenris before the wolves kill people.

I freaking LOVED the idea behind this one. Of course, I'm always super excited about anything purporting to be a fairy tale retelling. That's definitely one of my favorite genres of literature. However, there are also a lot of horrendously bad, or at leas unoriginal, fairy tale retellings out there. Sisters Red is gloriously new to me. I loved the idea of red riding hood luring the wolf to his doom, rather than the other way around; that's such a wonderful spin on the tale.

The fairy tale told here definitely hearkens back to the origins of fairy tales, not to Disney's reworkings. If you like the perkiness of the Disney tales, this may not be your cup of tea. The Grimm's fairy tales for example include much more bloodshed, like the evil stepsisters getting their eyes pecked out at Cinderella's wedding as they perform their bridesmaid duties. Jackson Pearce has written a dark, lush, violent fairy tale. Scarlett, for example, is missing an eye and wears an eye patch. Sweet YA paranormal romance this is not, and I like it all the better for that.

As I've mentioned before, writing multiple first person perspectives can be very tricky to get right. Often, the characters come out sounding exactly the same. Scarlett and Rosie have some similarities (they're sisters and very close), but there was no point where I couldn't tell whose chapter I was in. Their narration is different; Scarlett is sharp, predatory and jaded, while Rosie is soft, sweet and hopeful.

Sisters Red has also given me a new ship. I completely adore Rosie and Silas. He's a bit old for her, but he's also an old family friend and a woodsman/hunter. At the beginning of the book, he has just come back to their small Georgia town from a long trip. Before he left, Rosie was still a child, but, now, they are both different people, suddenly attracted to one another where they were not before. The awkwardness of their trying to handle this change is so completely real; I could feel tentative butterflies for them. That whole romance line I want to give two thumps up and a big goofy grin to.

My one issue with the book is a seeming inconsistency that I noticed. I sort of saw the big plot twist coming. In fact, I would have been wholly unsurprised by it, had I not convinced myself that I must be wrong about that since what I was expecting couldn't be the case because of something that happened early on. In other words, they're trying to prevent a particular event, but, so far as I can tell, that event occurred near the beginning of the book. There may be something to explain that, and I do intend to ask Jackson about it, but, for now, it's going to skew my rating down to a 4. Sorry if that whole paragraph didn't make sense, but it was the best I could do without spoilers!

That last thing aside, I devoured this novel like a Fenris devours tasty lady flesh. Okay, that was too much, but I'm rolling with it. I urge those who love fairy tales and incredibly strong ladies to go pick this book up pronto. It is as awesome as this cover; I promise.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "I hurry over to whip the Sexy Meatloaf out of the heat."
Weird quote to choose, I know, but I loved this whole scene because it captures Jackson's humor so well!

"Who's that I see walkin' in these woods
Why, it's Little Red Riding Hood
Hey there Little Red Riding Hood
You sure are looking good
You're everything a big bad wolf could want
Listen to me

Little Red Riding Hood
I don't think little big girls should
Go walking in these spooky old woods alone

What big eyes you have
The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad
So just to see that you don't get chased
I think I ought to walk with you for a ways

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Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

I do like fairy tales and strong women in the books I read, but I was put off this awhile ago by a review I read which talked about the rape culture in the book cuz I guess the characters blame some girls for the fenris eating them or whatever. I don't know. I will still read Sisters Red because I purchased a copy. Also? Your positive review is very convincing :-D

May 20, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, I guess I see what that person was referring to, because Scarlett does blame the girls that get all gussied up to go out to bars and end up attracting Fenris. She calls them Dragonflys. I didn't feel like the book as a whole was really blaming the women for it. For one thing, it's not like these women KNEW that the Fenris existed, so it was more like Scarlett was disappointed in their ignorance. Plus, the only real annoyance/anger at the victims was from Lett, and she has some psychological issues. For all of her comments, her goal in life is to eradicate the wolves to protect those women, so I don't think there's an attitude of them 'deserving' to be eaten because they were flirty and stupid.

Hope that helps.

May 20, 2012 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

It does help! I mean, I am keeping an open mind about the book when I eventually get to it.

Thanks so much for such a clear, great response.

May 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Forgot to mention that it really is just ignorance, because Lett's sister Rosie is just as beautiful as those women and lures the wolf as well, but it's okay because she KNOWS.

I'm pretty sure this is mentioned at some point. Lett's mostly just angry because she hates that people are dying and she couldn't save them.

May 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca Hipworth said...

I'm glad you like this book. :)
It just wasn't for me. I found the story hard to get into and I didn't like the characters very much.

June 2, 2012 at 8:41 AM  

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