Review: Sisters Red

Sisters Red
Jackson Pearce
2010
Little, Brown and Company
978-0-316-06868-0

Sisters Red is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story. As children, two sisters, the aptly named Scarlett and Rosie, were attacked by a Fenris – a man who turns into a wolf – at their grandmother’s cottage. In an effort to protect her sister, Scarlett lost an eye fighting the Fenris and is now covered in scars. Now, seven years later, the two sisters and their woodsman friend Silas are hunters who make it their mission to hunt the Fenris who prey on unsuspecting young women.  Scarlett and Rosie share an intense bond, but will it be broken by Rosie’s growing feelings for Silas?

At first I found this update on a classic tale intriguing. The story alternates chapters between Scarlett’s and Rosie’s point of view, so the reader understands the motivations of each character. Unfortunately, as I continued reading, I began to get bored. A large portion of the novel consists of a series of hunts, some of which are important to the plot but many of which I could have done without. It doesn’t help matters that I guessed the major plot twist early on and so was not surprised to see I was right. I also found the relationship between Rosie, who is 16, and Silas, who is 21, somewhat disturbing. I had to keep reminding myself that Rosie and Scarlett, 18, are teenagers because they seemed much older, but in reality Rosie is still a child. I was also confused as to why Rosie and Scarlett were always wearing cloaks. Yes, it ties in to the Red Riding Hood theme, but who really wears cloaks? Finally, Rosie, Scarlett, and Silas use various knives and hatchets to fight the Fenris, having to stab them repeatedly in order to kill them. Pearce never really explains why they don’t simply use guns. Do guns not work on Fenris?

I do think Pearce does an excellent job of illustrating the tension between the two sisters. Scarlett and Rosie are both compelling characters in their own right and I sympathized with both of them. I didn’t love Sisters Red but I will still check out Pearce’s next book, Sweetly, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel due out in August.

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