Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

When I first heard of Red Riding Hood, the movie, I thought it sounded interesting.  In fact, I thought it might be based on a book I'd read not too long ago called Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce since the timing seemed relevant.  However, once I saw the movie trailer, I knew it was a different take on the Little Red Riding Hood story, not Pearce's story.  The trailer looked interesting, so when I saw Red Riding Hood in Target I picked it up thinking I'd like to read it before seeing the movie since, for me, the book is usually better.

I was surprised to find that this is a book based on the movie and not the other way around.  As Catherine Hardwicke, the movie's director, explains in the introduction.  The original idea belonged to Leonardo DiCaprio and was the basis for the script written by David Leslie Johnson.  However, Hardwicke felt that there was so much to the story, beyond the scope of the movie, that she brought Sarah Blakley-Cartwright to the film set in Vancouver.  Once there, she was immersed in the world of Red Riding Hood and found the characters and the voices to tell more of the story.

Red Riding Hood is the story of Valerie, a wood cutter's daughter.  She lives in a world that is terrorized by a wolf.  Once a month, the villagers take turns leaving an animal sacrifice on the altar, appeasing the wolf on the full moon and ensuring another month of safety for the village.  However, during Valerie's first harvest as a village woman, things change.  There is a Blood Moon and the Wolf starts killing the townspeople.  It touches Valerie's family and the families of her friends.  The villagers call for a wolf hunt and Father Auguste sends for the famous Father Solomon, who informs the village that their troubles stem not from a wolf, but from a werewolf.

Valerie is also facing some major inner turmoil.  She finds that she is betrothed to Henry, without anyone consulting her, on the same day that Peter, her childhood friend and first love, returns to the village.  As the Wolf's killing begins to tear her family apart, the villagers start to turn on each other as Father Solomon convinces them that the werewolf lives amongst them.  Valerie is caught up in the frenzy as she finds that she has an interesting connection with the Wolf.

In the end, we are left with uncertainty.  The story could end where the book does, but a final page directing us to the book's website informs us that Valerie's story continues with a bonus chapter on March 14th, a few days after the movie opens.  While this is a very clever means of keeping the movie's ending a secret, especially since the movie was conceived first, it is a little frustrating to know that the end is not the end.  And, while I don't have to wait another year to know what happens next, as is the case with books in a series, I'm still left wanting to know how the story ends.  It's difficult to rate a book without knowing if the end is well-written.  However, based on the rest of the book, I'd venture a guess and say that Red Riding Hood the book will be an enjoyable read for anyone interested in the upcoming movie or is just a fan of paranormal fiction.

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