Monday, February 4, 2013

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce


     Title: Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings #1) 
     Author: Jackson Pearce
     Publisher: Little Brown Books
     Published: June 7, 2010
     Number of Pages: 328 
     Genre(s): Fantasy
     Date Read: August, 2010
     Acquired: Wal-Mart

This is not your Grandmother's Little Red Riding Hood, it's not even your Mother's Little Red; this Little Red Riding Hood doesn't deliver baked goods, she's tough and sassy and she's trained to kill, with a razor-sharp hatchet. Her name is Scarlett March and she dons the cloak as a means of luring the Fenris, aka werewolves, to their doom. They took her eye, her innocence, and most of her family. She'll do whatever it takes to rid the world of these abominations and to protect young girls from suffering the way she did, especially her little sister Rosie. She's not stopping until every one of them is dead.

Rosie March used to have an unbreakable bond with Scarlett. She once thought they were inseparable and that they would be together forever. Once. Even though she owes Scarlett her life, even though she fights ferociously alongside her, she feels herself drifting away, dreaming of and longing for a different life, one without werewolves and killing and constantly having to be on guard. Silas represents her chance for that, but to take that chance with Silas might mean betraying her sister and everything they've worked for, because Silas isn't just any boy, he's a trained woodsman, as deadly with an axe as Scarlett, he's her partner, and her only friend.

Silas loves Rosie, he feels the same conflict she feels in betraying Scarlett, but he has an even bigger secret, one that neither of the girls knows about. One that could put them both in danger, does he have the strength to do what's right? Does he have the strength to stop loving Rosie?

As far as fractured fairytales and re-visioned stories go this one is right up there as far as I'm concerned. Is it a literary masterpiece that will make you weep from the beauty of the prose? No, but then I've never been the biggest fan of such high-brow stuff, I respect it and appreciate it for what it is but it's not my idea of pleasure reading. Sisters Red is most definitely a for pleasure book. It has recognisable elements from the source story, a young girl in a red cloak, a woodsman who comes to her rescue, and a wolf; or you know, several. It takes those familiar elements and adds things and embellishes just generally taking the story up to eleven. In the fairytale Little Red was a helpless little girl who needed to be rescued; Pearce's Red, in the form of Scarlett certainly started off that way, but she doesn't stay that way. I like to imagine that if you went back to the original Red a few years after her adventure that she'd have grown up to be like Scarlett. Someone who takes in what they've experienced and learns from it. Who goes from being a victim to someone who can stand on her own two feet and fend for herself. Scarlett does that, she experienced a damsel in distress incident, internalised the experience, learned the lesson, and then turned around and learned how to terrorise the creatures who once terrorised her, becoming a hardcore action girl and a definitive example of a Little Red Fighting Hood

This re-vision changes the classic tale from a simple moral tale that the story originally was and introduces multiple, not necessarily clear cut morals. For Rosie the biggest moral has to be to follow one's heart. For Scarlett, leave nothing to chance and if you want something done right it's best to do it yourself. For Silas, you can change your destiny. 2/3 of those morals I am okay with. Something that really disappointed me about this novel was Scarlett's ending, she seems to have the least amount of character growth of all 3 of the protagonists. By the end she's still as obstinate, stubborn, driven and obsessed with her mission as she was at the beginning, everything has changed around her, but she doesn't seem to have changed at all except for the fact that she no longer believes that everyone has to help her in her vendetta...I suppose that's progress...

About Silas changing his destiny? I really love the way Pearce took the 7th son of a 7th son trope and used it as a plot device in Silas's case; and now I've probably given away the best plot twist in the book...I better go and put a spoiler alert on this! Having it turn out that he's the reason the Fenris are drawn to their city was a brilliant twist. I was not expecting it to come out that he was at risk, but it fits so well and makes perfect sense. Definitely one of my favourite parts of the book.

Do you enjoy fractured fairytales? If so what are some of your favourites? I'm always looking for more!


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