Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is an urban fantasy with just enough elements of "Little Red Riding Hood" to make it count as a fairy tale retelling -- red cloaks, wolves, a basket of cookies -- but much more gore and violence (yes, even more than in the original Grimm tale).

Scarlett has seen too much to ever live a normal life. She fought her first wolf when she was eleven -- the wolf that killed Scarlett's grandmother, and took Scarlett's right eye with one brutal slash of its claws. Now, at eighteen, Scarlett is dedicated to fighting the Fenris, or werewolves, that stalk and devour pretty young girls.

Rosie is Scarlett's younger sister. She's been right behind Scarlett all her life -- including the time Scarlett fought that first wolf to protect her. She's continually trying to live up to her sister's expectations, fighting the Fenris along side of her . . . but Rosie longs for a slightly more normal life. Scarlett is driven to fight, while Rosie dreams of romance, of going to college, of having a life that doesn't involve killing monsters every few nights. On the other hand, Rosie loves her sister -- she sometimes thinks that the two of them share the same heart -- so it's not hard to share Scarlett's lifestyle. At least, not until their neighbor Silas comes back to town.

Handsome Silas comes from a family of woodsmen. He fought the Fenris with Scarlett before he left town in search of his own future. Now he's back, and Rosie is finding herself suddenly attracted to him in a way she never was before. Can Rosie and Silas find a way to be together that Scarlett won't see as a betrayal? And what about the increased threat from the wolves, as more and more of them seem drawn to the area?

I was somehow expecting this book to be much more explicit than it was. I think I read a critique of it a few years ago (maybe someone was banning it somewhere? I can't quite remember the details) that led me to believe it was going to be a more edgy read. Sure, there are dead wolves strewn across the pages (well, actually, they break apart into shadow when they are killed, so they're not strewn there for long), but that's about it. I kept waiting for Really Bad Things to happen to Rosie, who is the more vulnerable and sympathetic character, but actually, if it's not too much of a spoiler to say so, Rosie really manages to come into her own by the end of the book. So, all in all, I enjoyed this more than I was expecting to, and will probably read more by this author.

(Review copy borrowed through my library system.) 

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