Title: Red Riding Hood
Author: Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retellings, Young Adult
Publisher: Little Brown, Poppy (Imprint of Little Brown Books)
Date Published: January 25th, 2011
Valerie’s sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.
After her sister’s violent death, Valerie’s world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them–it could be anyone in town.
It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes…or everyone she loves will die.
When I first saw the preview for the movie for this book, I was so excited to see it. Then, I heard it was based on a book so I decided I had to read it before seeing the movie. What I didn’t realize, and what I learned in the introduction by Catherine Hardwicke (the director for the movie), is that this book was actually written BASED ON the screenplay, not the other way around. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with why the book seemed a bit choppy and disconnected at points. The POV also shifts quite a lot. It wasn’t too bad or confusing, but I think that because this was based on a screenplay is why that was the case.
So this book is a version of the old tale of Red Riding Hood. After reading the introduction, like I said above, I learned that it is actually based on an idea by Leo DiCaprio. I’ve seen some movies that Leo has produced/directed, and I liked them. But, I also know that his movies don’t always have a happy ending. So, I was a bit leery as to where this book would end up because of that as well.
In this version of Red Riding Hood, Valerie lives in a small town that a wolf has haunted for as long as she, and the other townsfolk, can remember. It is customary for the town to leave an animal sacrifice every full moon. This seems to keep “the curse of the wolf” under control so that no one in the town is hurt by it. One year, when Valerie is about seven, she witnesses the wolf finding its prey — a goat that was her and her family’s. But the wolf doesn’t hurt her. Ten years later, it’s harvest time and the neighboring towns come in to help them to harvest. A boy named Peter that used to be Valerie’s best friend, but left over 10 years ago (before her encounter with the wolf) comes back with this group from another town. She’s always had a crush on him so she’s excited to see him again. But, another boy in her own town named Henry has his eye on her as well. When the townspeople find out that the wolf is not just any old wolf but a werewolf and could be any one of them from the town, she begins to suspect those closest to her and doesn’t know where to put her trust.
Okay so like I said above, there were some parts of this book that seemed a bit disconnected. But, overall, it was a pretty good story. It’s a very different take on the tale and the mystery of who the wolf is was very well done — I suspected a number of people and was never quite sure who it was and wasn’t. The one thing I will say that annoys the crap out of me is that this leaves off with a major freakin’ cliffhanger — like we don’t find out who the wolf is. Then, after the last page it says “Is this truly the end of Valerie’s story? Visit www.redridinghoodbook.com to find out.” Yeah, okay, whatever that means. So, I go to the website, and there’s a “Read the Bonus Chapter” link on there. I click on it, and there’s an entire extra chapter (about 20 pages) in pdf form to read (for free). But, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “bonus chapter”, more like a “key chapter” because it reveals who the wolf is. First off, I’m glad that they don’t leave it hanging, because it doesn’t seem like it’ll be a series. BUT, what the hell? You make me go to your website to get more traffic just so I have to download the last chapter and find out how it ends? That just makes me lose respect for the author/publisher/whoever decided that was a good idea. Now, I will say, knowing how Leo does his movies, that PERHAPS the book itself is how the movie ends and the bonus chapter was given for those of us who would have been pissed off by that. But, I still found it pretty annoying.
So overall, it was a good book, but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. I’m still excited for the movie, though. The only thing is that if you read this book, definitely download the “bonus chapter” from the website AFTER you read the book so that you can find out the ending. DO NOT read it before though, or it will spoil the whole book for you. I also was not thrilled with the actual ending (in the “bonus chapter”), but it was better than the one we get in the book I guess. :- But, I would still recommend this book. It’s pretty good, and if it weren’t for the stingy ending in the physical book, I would have given it four stars probably.
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