Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there is a village much like other villages in the time of yore. In this village is a girl named Valerie, her older sister named Lucie, and their parents, Suzette with unrequited love for another, and Cesaire, the town drunk who carries sorrow in his heart. In a different house lives the grandmother who has been accused of being a witch.
The village has an agreement with a very big, very bad wolf. Full moon comes and a goat or some other poor creature is sacrificed for the wolf's meal. And the wolf leaves the villagers alone. But then the wolf kills Lucie. At the same time, Valerie's childhood friend, Peter arrives. He has secrets. Coincidentally, Valerie becomes betrothed to the village hottie, Henry. And this is the requisite love triangle.
I read on the internet (so I KNOW it must be true) that this novel started as a screen play. In fact, the movie will be released in March. Along with the final chapter of the book. So, yes, the book ends with a cliffhanger but I'm pretty certain I know who the wolf is and it's none of the usual suspects. In fact, the speculation will definitely drive up the hype for the movie release. But even with my "knowledge" of the wolf, there are still unanswered questions. I'm just going to put my suspicions in the envelope here and let you open it after the identity is revealed.
Hint: It's not someone that Valerie or any of the other characters suspect. If I'm wrong, I'll buy you all ice cream.
Also found on the internet (very reliable source), I found that this book stands alone. The answers had better be in that final chapter. I reserve the right to change my star rating. Including up.
What I loved: The imagery evoked is astonishing. Although a little slow in the beginning, I enjoyed the quiet tale reminiscent of M. Night Shamalayan's The Village. And then it picks up. Particularly the moment when the wolf slips down part of its face to reveal human eyes as it talks to Valerie with a voice both male and female, beast and human. (I heard: We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile). Continuing with the imagery, this is a bloody book. The wolf really is big and bad.
What I didn't love: Character development. I wouldn't go so far as to accuse any of the characters of being one dimensional, but a couple come pretty close. I would have liked to know what qualities both Peter and Henry possessed to be of interest. Also, something happened to make Peter and his father disappear all those years ago. Is that when Valerie and Peter bonded? Then what is the attraction now? Then there's Henry with better character development which leads to me wonder why Valerie isn't leaving Peter in the dust. Suzette and Cesaire have secrets that need to be revealed for me to have closure. I believe that Valerie's parents and grandmother know much more about the wolf than they let on.
Also what I didn't love: The non-ending. However, since the book was supposed to coincide with the release of the movie (as per internet gossip), I can see this as a great marketing tool to boost sales for the movie which looks FANTASTIC, by the way. Catherine Hardwicke of Twilight fame is directing it. I've made no secret about my disappointment for the first Twilight movie (which nixed the next three) but this is not Twilight. This is not a Chick Flick.
Back to my love: The writing and the story is compelling. I went into it without expectations and found it to be a compelling page turner. I would not suggest the reader skip the book and just read the last chapter when it is released on the internet. It is a truly unique and enjoyable read.
Last chapter will be released on 3/14 on www.redridinghoodbook.com. Any reservations I have expressed in this review is due solely to the fact that I don't know exactly how it will end.
Honestly, I loved the book.