Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Fairytale Retellings (Book 1)
Publication Date: June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 345 Pages
ISBN-10: 0316068683 (Little, Brown/Hachette)
ISBN-13: 978-0316068680 (Little, Brown/Hachette)
Reviewed by: Michelle
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?
Quick & Dirty: A dark, loose retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, filled with a compelling narrative.
Opening Sentence: Strangers never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged toward them.
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is her second novel, and I was naturally drawn to the cover. The sisters and wolf were strategically placed, giving a whimsical feel to the story already. Like many of you, I am always drawn to fairytale retellings. Who isn’t? It’s our childhood, reincarnated, and hopefully into something more. Pearce is famous for her intelligent retellings, balancing the sweet and innocents to the modern take with fun and humor. If you’re a fan of retellings, then Sisters Red is for you.
Set in modern Atlanta, Sisters Red borders on the lines of reality and fantasy, introducing us to the March sisters. Fenrirs, or werewolves, have been menacing the local villages, and no one is safe. One tragic evening has brought death and despair to the March sisters, leaving Rosie and Scarlet without their Grandmother, and more scars than anyone would want. Scarlet has grown up seeking revenge, hunting fenrirs left and right, vowing to never let her tragedy happen to anyone else. Rosie has accepted the life of her sister, and follows along, knowing that she owes her life to Scarlet. An alarming number of fenrirs are roaming around town, and they decide to travel to the city to find out what’s going on. Dangers lurk in the corner, and it isn’t all sugar, spice, and definitely not anything nice.
Scarlett is a strong character. Possibly one of the strongest that I’ve read about in a long time. Not only does she live with emotional scars of her past, she is also reminded by her physical ones. Scarlet’s life is driven by those emotions and those scars, and it’s obvious she’s going in a down wind spiral. She has flaws, but with the best intentions. Scarlet is very complex and was enjoyable getting to know.
Rosie is the opposite of Scarlett. While Scarlett is calculated and goes to the extremes, Rosie is a little more subdued and calculating. A romantic dreamer, I quickly felt and understood that Rosie wanted life outside of hunting and revenge. She was young when the fenrirs attacked, so I’m sure that Rosie always wanted a normal life. I don’t think she has the emotional baggage that Scarlett has. I didn’t connect to Rosie as well as I did with Scarlett, but that could just be because I’m a sucker for tortured souls.
While there is a love story, and some wonderful supporting characters, the spotlight belongs to Scarlett and March. After all, they are the Sisters Red. The love story is there, and it will surprise you (or it will not), but it was cleverly weaved in amidst the dangers of fenrirs. The bread and butter is really the hunting and action-packed scenes. I enjoyed the wild chases to bring down, and kill as many fenrirs as they can. Hey, it’s a fairytale for older ages, I can enjoy that, can’t I?
While loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood, the reader has to think about the Hans Christian Andersen version, and not the Mother Goose version. Sisters Red is dark and violent, showcasing the ugly of the “big, bad wolf.” The culture in which Pearce has created for the story is wonderful, finely creating this imaginative backdrop to a great story. Pearce’s confidence shows through the pages, in the words, and within the characters.
Sisters Red is a great adventure bringing on the characteristics of strength and loyalty, but also talking about morals of revenge. It was great, and I cannot wait until Pearce’s next story. I urge you to pick up and read it.
I take off after them in a dead sprint, but even as my heart thunders in my ears and sweat begins to trickle down my back, I know it’s a lost cause. They’re fast, so much faster than a human. Still, I run until I reach the edge of the park, where I slow to a walk and my eyes burn in anger at the line of Dragonflies before me, blond hair and bright teeth and perfect marble-smooth skin. Why did I think that I would be able to lure three Fenris when they have this kind of prey? I watch the girls glitter, sparkle, glow in the night.
I am a hunter. If I can’t hunt… I’m nothing. In a flurry of frustration, I whirl around and send my hatchet whistling through the air. It strikes the base of a nearby tree, sending a shower of bark to the grass as it sinks several inches into the trunk. A few Dragonflies take notice, scowling at me before going back to their conversations. I storm to the tree, yank my hatchet from it, and start home, heart raging.
Fairytale Retellings Series:
1. Sisters Red
4. Cold Spell (TBA 2013)
FTC Advisory: I purchased this copy of Sisters Red. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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