Review: Red Riding Hood — Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Read: 28
To Go: 72

Book List
21. Water For Elephants — Sara Gruen
22. The Borrowers — Mary Norton
23. Very Valentine — Adriana Trigiani
24. Eat, Pray, Love — Elizabeth Gilbert
25. Something Borrowed — Emily Giffin
26. Divine Evil — Nora Roberts
27. It’s Kind of A Funny Story — Ned Vizzini
28. Red Riding Hood — Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

A deeper and more complicated take on the original fairytale, Red Riding Hood takes us to the town of Daggorhorn, a place where the citizens are in the constant throes of paranoia due to The Wolf (capitals intended) that lives in the woods. For years he was kept at bay by a monthly sacrifice, but after a blood moon the town finds one of their own — a beautiful, kind young woman named Lucie — torn to shreds.

While the town looks to a visitor for help to eradicate the problem, Valerie, the sister of the deceased, is dealing with her own issues: she’s betrothed to a man she doesn’t love, and her heart longs for a lifelong friend. Oh, and The Wolf expects her to run away with it.

Oddly enough, this is a story that was a movie before it was a book. Originally an idea spurned by Leonardo DiCaprio, Red Riding Hood was passed along to Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight, in script form. Hardwicke claimed that, while filming, she discovered that she couldn’t accurately cover all the intricacies of the story and characters through the movie alone — she wanted a book to do what the on-screen version could not. She then enlisted the help of Sarah Blakley-Cartwright.

As you could probably assume based on the synopsis, this book has a serious case of Twilight-ism. Valerie’s romantic plot felt a little too Edward-versus-Jacob for my liking, and she was an unfortunately dull character (very Bella-like, if I’m being honest). Perhaps I’m predisposed to believe this purely because there are supernatural creatures involved, but I digress.

The writing style itself wasn’t bad, but felt a little clunky at times — mostly when the narration would awkwardly declare something along the lines of “Just two days earlier, Valerie could not have imagined she would be here. Everyone she loved had turned against her, or else she had turned against them. Her sister had died” (Blakley-Cartwright 277). A lot of the time, things were pointlessly stated and repeated (i.e. Lucie’s death), and there was more telling than showing going on (most of the characters were described as being a certain way — dangerous, sweet, rebellious, what-have-you — but their dialogue only indicated they were rather average and boring).

I think my biggest issue was that the plot itself lacked real motivation. There was a lot of “this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened” without any real cause for anything. To draw on an example from the story, I’ll refer to the final chapters. (Warning: spoilers ahead.) Valerie awakes in her house and decides to walk up into the forest, and is incredibly curt (bordering on rude, actually) to her mother and close friend. She feels scared while in the woods, but assures herself that she’ll be fine. She turns around. The love of her life is there. She’s not sure whether he’s The Wolf of not, but decides she doesn’t care (forget the fact that, if he is, he may have been responsible for her sister’s murder). End of story.

I’m sorry, but what was her motivation? Why did she randomly leave? And why has she suddenly stopped caring whether or not Peter (the love of her life) is a werewolf? Was this just because Blakley-Cartwright really wanted Valerie and Peter to run off into the sunset together?

The majority of the story was like this — lacking any motivation, limply strung together to connect the dots between major plot points — and the book suffered for it.

No, I wouldn’t recommend Red Riding Hood. And though I’m being presumptuous, I have to say that if the movie is anything like its counterpart, I wouldn’t recommend seeing that either.

Next book: Son Of A Witch — Gregory Maguire

– Kelsey

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