Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sisters Red

Scarlett and Rosie March were orphaned as children when a wolf attacked and killed their grandmother. Scarlett was nearly killed in the attack and escaped with only one eye and a great many scars. This wolf was no ordinary wolf, but a soulless creature that takes the form of a man and can turn into a wolf, called a Fenris. Eight years later, the sisters train hard and hone their skills to be able to kill as many of these creatures as possible, with the help of their woodsman neighbor Silas. As a result of their constant training and slaying Fenris, the girls haven’t had a chance to go to school, have friends, or even think about dating like normal girls their age. They live in the same small rural country town they grew up in and their world is pretty small. Scarlett is satisfied with this the hunt consuming her life, but Rosie longs for some semblance of normalcy. Rosie also starts to have feelings for Silas, which proves to be more of a problem when they all relocate to a small apartment in a big city in pursuit of a Potential, a male that can be turned into a Fenris with very specific conditions. Can Rosie have a relationship with Silas without alienating her sister? Will they find the Potential and protect him before the Fenris turn him?

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for a good retelling of a fairy tale. This is one of the most exceptional that I’ve read in general. Jackson Pearce takes the simple fairy tale, Red Riding Hood, and adds beautiful detail to it. The flat characters become realistic and multidimensional. The story is transported to the present. The setting starts as rural and then becomes urban. The city, not the forest as in so many fairy tales, serves as the setting for transformation and the main action in the story. The single wolf becomes a group of werewolves. The woodsman that acts as the savior in the story becomes an ally and a friend. These changes still reference and use the original story as a starting point, but ends up going against such fairy tale conventions as the cliché happily ever after and the helpless damsel in distress. They ultimately transform a fairly flat tale into a story that speaks to (and is relevant in) the modern world.

Scarlett and Rosie are fierce warriors and very close sisters with an intense relationship. They are about as different as night and day: Scarlett is perfectly happy just hunting and killing Fenris for the rest of her life and Rosie wants something more. The novel is told from both of their points of view, switching between them each chapter. It’s a great way to get a better idea of both of their thought processes and where both of them are coming from. My favorite thing about them is how they destroy what the original fairy tale essentially says about women. The girls dress up in red hoods, heavy makeup, and sexy clothing to lure in the Fenris for the kill. They use their sexuality as a weapon and don’t depend on the woodsman to come and save them. They are self sufficient and fierce. The original tale can be interpreted in many ways. In my opinion, it can be interpreted as rape being the fault of the victim or as a negative view of a young woman’s burgeoning sexuality. Scarlett and Rosie prove to be the complete opposite of these two views. It’s wonderful to see this frankly misogynistic tale made into one of empowerment.

Sisters Red is an excellent story with adventure, werewolves, grisly deaths, and even a little bit of romance. I would recommend it to pretty much anyone that has seen or heard of any rendition of Red Riding Hood.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

Misty said...

5/5? Really. Hmm, I might have to look in to this. I've been hesitant to read it for a couple of reasons (1, some people I know who raved about it tend to like things I don't; 2, the cover is a bit cartoony for me.) But I love a good ft retelling, too, so this just got bumped up the list from eventually,maybe to sooner-rather-than-later...