Title: Red Riding Hood
Author: Sarah Blakely-Cartwright & David Leslie Johnson (screenplay)
Release date: 24 February 2011
Published by: Atom Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Callum Dalloway
Opening line: “From the towering heights of the tree, the little girl could see everything.”
Closing line: “She made her choice and brought her lips to his.”
Favourite quote: “The world went quiet. Then Valerie heard an intricate voice, a medley woven from sounds both male and female, human and animal. A composite of every voice she’d ever known, it vibrated deep within her. The Devil’s voice.”
“Once upon a time... there was a girl, and there was a Wolf.”
I should begin by saying that this book is not the original work the upcoming film was based on, it was written from the screenplay and was intended to “deepen the world of the characters” allowing more time to be spent in the little moments, and more background to be given.
The book itself is very easy to read, and I did not find the beginning to be slow or difficult to get into. Valerie – Red Riding Hood herself! – is a young girl from a village enslaved in fear of the Wolf. She is constantly described as the outsider (which does start to become a little tedious) and feels different to the rest of the village.
Her character is likeable, and the conflicts she faces within herself (as well as with her family and friends) are excellent at bringing depth to the story and setting the time of the tale. She is clearly the heroine from the beginning, but there is a great deal of satisfaction when she finally puts on that famous red cloak and truly connects with the fairy tale!
There is plenty of romance and sexual tension for readers to get involved with, and although I don’t want to mention Twilight, the indecision between blacksmith Henry and the enigmatic Peter is slightly reminiscent of Meyer’s work. However, it is different enough to not be a distracting likeness.
I found this book to be on the surface, very obvious and predictable, yet, I wanted to continue reading to make sure there was no twist in the tale approaching, or that the revealing descriptions were red-herrings! You will not be disappointed by the blurring of transparency with mystery.
There are a few moments of suspense in the book, as well as some changes of perspective, which helped give the world dimension away from Valerie’s point of view. I also think Blakely-Cartwright has a very relatable style of writing, especially when it comes to pinning down certain emotions the characters are feeling, her descriptions are excellent!
My only real complaint would be that the story inevitably moves towards an ending, which the book does not provide. There is a cliffhanger of sorts, and there is still no clear revealing of who the Wolf is in human form! I have found that there is a bonus chapter to be made available on 16th April, conveniently a day after the film is to be released...
This book has succeeded in whetting my appetite for the film even more than before I began reading, and provided an enjoyable adaptation of a Grimm brother’s classic. I would definitely recommend it, but would have to stress the fact there is no conclusion, requiring download of the final chapter or viewing of the film!
For the record, my money’s on Grandmother...