Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
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.
When I started Red Riding Hood, I expected a Gothic tale of betrayal, suspense, and werewolves. But that’s not quite what it was. Valerie’s story was told choppily, allowing for very little insight into the characters. What was revealed about the villagers was told matter-of-factly, told not shown.
The story itself seemed fairly suspenseful and interesting independent of its writing, but there were plenty of little thorns it poked into my side. There are dozens of dead-ends, from Grandmother’s behavior to Peter’s, the two main suspects. Valerie seems to suspect everyone of being the Wolf at one point or another, and usually with little proof and no further investigation.
The love triangle irked me, as well. It wasn’t done very well, and Valerie decides on one boy, Henry or Peter, and then ten pages later knows it’s the other who she loves and should be with, only to change her mind in the next chapter. The villagers flip-flop the same way, going from ready to murder Valerie for being a witch to uniting to protect her.
Red Riding Hood is also full of numerous plot holes. Father Solomon says that the curse is hereditary, and gets stronger with every generation. He admits that his own wife was a werewolf, and he has two daughters. He shows no remorse in killing the creatures or the humans that have been infected, but allows his daughters to live. Which means that either the curse isn’t hereditary, and the girls are human, or Solomon has gone soft and allows them to turn into werewolves and kill during every full moon. The same problem presents itself with Valerie’s grandmother, who is possibly the wolf, which would make one of Valerie’s parents and Valerie herself a werewolf.
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