Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Book: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce was released this past week.  I was fortunate and received a review copy a few weeks ago, although I just picked it up to start reading it last night.  (Life has been a little hectic of late with other SurLaLune demands, but more about that later.)

Sisters Red is a modern, creative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, which surprisingly enough hasn't been rewritten as a novel very often.  See LRRH Modern Interpretations on SurLaLune to wonder at the dearth for what is arguably one of the most popular fairy tales, top five if not top three in my experience.  If you look closely at that list, you will see that three of those novels are 2010 releases, too.  Now short stories on the other hand, there are plenty of those exploring the tale.  Still, we have more YA and adult novel length interpretations of East of the Sun, West of the Moon and Twelve Dancing Princesses than Little Red Riding Hood!  Fortunately, this title is a worthy entry and just may inspire more authors and their publishers to produce more. 

Full kudos to Pearce for a creative take on the story that will appeal to many readers, especially those fascinated with werewolves and other dark fantasy elements right now.  Most readers will hardly notice or care that this is a take on Little Red.  I also like that it is about two sisters, a type of relationship that is so often neglected in fairy tales, but works well here.  I was reminded a little of Snow White and Rose Red.  (I even wondered about it when I first read the title months ago.)

I don't do storyline summaries very well, so here's a product description from the publisher:

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?
The reviews have been deservedly great, too, some even starred. 

Review from School Library Journal:

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—For Scarlett and Rosie March, the world is not what it seems. Werewolves, called Fenris, live among them in the form of good-looking men who prey on pretty young girls. When a Fenris attacked the March girls, it killed their grandmother and left them emotionally and, for Scarlett, physically scarred. Since then, they have taken action and revenge. With the help of a friend, Silas, the girls are on a mission—to destroy as many Fenris as they can. This goal becomes more complicated when they try to unravel the mystery behind the pack and prevent the next "Potential" from transforming fully into a soulless, evil monster. Pearce is on the mark with this modern-day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Told by the sisters in alternating chapters, this well-written, high-action adventure grabs readers and never lets go. Rosie and Scarlett are true heroines; smart, tough, and determined, but their special bond is put to test when Rosie and Silas's relationship becomes more than just friendship. A satisfying read with a fantastic cover.
Review from Kirkus Reviews:

This is not the tale of Little Red Riding Hood your granny told. In this version, the sisters, Scarlett and Rose (shades of red, anyone?), were attacked by a werewolf-like Fenris and saved by Scarlett's quick action with a broken mirror. The attack left Scarlett with one eye, bite and claw scars and an obsessive drive to rid the world of the Fenris clans. Told from the points of view of the two teens, joined by childhood friend and woodsman Silas, the story combines elements of fantasy and mystery in equal parts. The voices of both sisters are distinctive and clearly differentiated, though the dialogue is sometimes overwrought and melodramatic. The plot unfolds with steadily increasing tension and unexpected twists to a shocking climax. The ending may not be totally satisfying, but it is realistic given the depiction of both young women. This urban fantasy with its scarred heroine and intermittent violence is not for Twilight fans but may well appeal to Melissa Marr's readers and teens who like their fantasy on the gritty side.
Pearce has played with fantasy and fairy tale themes before, such as in her As You Wish.

And finally, isn't that a beautiful cover?  I would have squealed upon seeing it if it was the cover for something I had written.  (And I am NOT a squealer.) Great marketing tool.  Really, you must look at it larger to get the full effect of the wolf meshed with the two sisters.  Brilliant.  Here it is larger for your enjoyment:

Finally again, Jackson Pearce has a blog of her own and talks about the book on her RELEASE DAY post.  If you want to read more about the long process of the book reaching its release day, go over and read it.

PS: Pearce has a companion book, Sweetly, due out next year which plays with Hansel and Gretel, another somewhat neglected fairy tale.

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