Book Review : Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Red Riding Hood
Red Riding Hood by , (Introduction),

Paperback, First Edition, 329 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Poppy

Available on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository


Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.

After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them - it could be anyone in town.

It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.

Red Riding Hood by Sarah-Blakley Cartwright is a spin-off of the classic French tale of the same title. Now spiced up with elements of paranormal and mystery, this new version of Red Riding Hood has also been made into a movie. Surprisingly, I found it to be a quite decent young adult book even though it has been receiving some negative feedback by fellow book bloggers.

The author's literary prose is lovely. The descriptions, the atmosphere, the setting, the villager's expressions, actions and reactions etc. are well written. I also liked the suspense the author instilled into the story. Who is the Wolf? Was it grandmother? Henry? Peter? Or someone else? It kept the gears in my brain turning.

I agree with fellow book blogger Casey (The Bookish Type) on one thing: Synopses should not give away anything that doesn't happen in the first 50 pages. Basically, the synopsis of this book covered almost half of the book (100+ pages), which is a very unwise thing for the publisher to do. It bores the reader when they find out that what they are supposed to discover can actually be summarized in the synopsis itself. It diminishes the "wow" factor of the story itself.

The characters feels bland and one-dimensional to me. There are no detailed descriptions of the characters, especially one of the main characters - Peter, the boy Valerie loved. He left the town years ago, only to return now as a handsome woodcutter. Valerie can't take her eyes off him. There is not much interaction between the two besides a few basic words, but then Valerie expresses her love for him and he says he loves him too. (Huh? Is this speed dating?)

My favourite character would be Roxanne, who gave up herself and painfully betrayed Valerie's secret to save her innocent, gentle younger brother who was wrongly accused of demonic activities. She was the only one who cared for her brother and loved him despite his strange appearance. Henry's willingness to protect Valerie also more or less touched me.

The reason of Peter's departure years ago was not explained in this book. It was only observed that he left because someone died. And the villagers accused him (or his father, I don't remember) of being a murderer. I would like it better if the author actually explained this matter.

The story was left hanging and the identity of the Wolf was not revealed, leaving the ending to the reader's imagination. However, I later found out that you can download the last chapter of the story on the official website, After reading this final chapter, I was satisfied about how the story ended. Turns out the big, bad werewolf was someone whom I had never suspected. I liked being outsmarted by authors. That's why I decided to give it 3 stars despite the fact that the cons outnumbered the pros.

Rating: 3
A Note of Thanks
Book won courtesy of The Star's Stuff@School team and MPH Distributors.

Other Editions
Red Riding Hood
My favourite cover.

Red Riding Hood MTI
The movie tie-in.

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