Red Riding Hood By, Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Based on a screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson
copyright 2011/ reading level: YA
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 life starts to spiral out of control. For generations the wolf has been kept at bay by 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 that 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.
from the book cover***
When the movie for this book started to be advertised I was a little excited. A sexy, Gothic retelling of a classic fairy tale seemed like a good idea. I love Gothic settings, and was intrigued as to how they were putting a new spin on this tale. Which had always been my favorite as a child. So I bought the book, as I always do before seeing any movie that has a book attached. But it sat at the bottom of my to read pile for a while as I had other books to review. Than I saw the reviews of the movie, and got a little nervous. Than I looked at the book closer and saw that it was a adaptation of the screenplay. Historically, I don't like those. So to be fair, I must disclose I did not have high expectations. I read the book in one night, and while it wasn't bad, I won't run signing it's praises from the hills. It was OK, a slight disappointment.
Valerie is a young women in a tired, oppressed town that is being haunted by a werewolf. Through a monthly sacrifice on the full moon, the wolf has left the town alone for some two generations. But on the night of the blood moon everything changes. A young man comes to town to help with the harvest, Peter, a boy from Valerie's childhood, and her sister is found dead. At the same time Valerie learns she is betrothed to the blacksmith's son, Henry, who Peter is somehow tied to the death of Henry's mother. So they are natural enemies. After it is found that her sister's death was caused by the wolf the men of the village go on an ill fated hunt for the wolf.
After the men return with the head of a wolf, and Henry's dead father, things really start to spiral out of control. The village priest calls in a werewolf hunter, who is, to me, a Protestant minister who is on his own personal witch hunt. When it is found that the wolf head is not "the werewolf" the minister institutes a type of police state and things really start to get bad.
What follows is really more of an excuse for a massacre. Half the town is mauled to death by the wolf in one night, and Valerie is arrested as a witch. Her grandmother, as well as the historical lines "what big eyes you have" also appear. In fact, I was starting to think her grandmother was the wolf. I was disappointed by the blood bath that the last few chapters were. They were not overly graphic, but it was just too much. I was also disappointed by the ending. Which I felt was a plug to go see the movie, it just kind of stopped.
As far as a quick read, with some good lines, the book was worth it. But if you are looking for a deeper retelling of a classic story, with substance, you won't find it here. The book was certainly a vehicle to promote the movie. I don't think I would run out to the store to buy it. I would be comfortable with letting this one go out on a permanent loan.