Sisters Red [ Fairytale Retellings #1 ] by Jackson Pearce

8:09 AM

Title: Sisters Red
Series: Fairytale Retellings
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publication Date: June 7th, 2010
Publisher: Little Brown
ISBN: 0316068683
Rating: 3 stars

I wanted so, so much more from this book than it gave me. I expected an epic sister relationship, badass girls, horror, creepiness, some sort of monster-of-the-week type of format, and a new favorite book. I was so let down; I was given very little of what I was looking for.

Sisters Red is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling. The main characters are Rosie and Scarlett March, two teenage werewolf hunters. Scarlett is scarred – like, actually scarred, not typical YA fantasy scarred – from an encounter with a werewolf in her childhood. She lives for the hunt, and she loves nothing more than killing the wolves. Rosie, on the other hand, mostly hunts because she feels like it’s her duty, and because she feels like she owes her life to Scarlett. They are close with a fellow hunter, Silas, who is close to Scarlett’s age, and like Rosie, does not live for the hunt.

I actually loved Scarlett and Rosie. I thought they were great characters, and I loved them together, even when they weren’t getting along. They were both flawed, three-dimensional characters, and I am far more attached to them than I am the book as a whole. I thought werewolf hunting sisters was a fresh take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Really, the premise was so promising, and with such awesome main characters, how could this book end up so dull?

First off, isn’t this supposed to be a horror book? I don’t see how it is! It never picked up the pace. Basically, Scarlett (and sometimes Rosie) go around killing werewolves – known as fenris. But it’s never challenging – even when they are in danger, you know they’re going to win, you don’t feel like anything is at stake. I like being on the edge of my seat, irrationally scared of the outcome even if, logically, I know there are 100 more pages left, so the characters obviously live. This book didn’t give me that suspense that is so integral in a horror book. Nor did it give me any creepiness in place of suspense.

Which brings me to my next point: the fenris were SO bland. The fenris were all interchangeable, which made for very uninteresting villains. I didn’t expect woobified, angsty wolves – I didn’t even expect any of the fenris to get a whole lot of depth -- but a weak villain makes for a weak book. Briefly, it seemed like we might get something more than the rapey, bland fenris with guttural growls (seriously, how many times was “guttural” used in this book?) when we meet a character in Rosie’s tango class, but we never see him again. What a wasted opportunity.

The actual plot takes a really long time to develop, and when it does, the book doesn’t get any better for it! Scarlett, Rosie, and Silas (who Rosie has developed feelings for), are looking for something called a “Potential”. A Potential is a person who can be changed into a werewolf – and all the wolves are looking for him, too. So this new plot is unveiled, and…what? They mostly spend their time talking about how they have no idea how to find him.

During this time, Rosie and Silas develop a relationship behind Scarlett’s back. I was actually glad when Rosie and Silas finally got together – not because I cared for their relationship, but because I was glad Rosie got what she wanted. Actually, their relationship was kind of boring. While Rosie and Silas are enjoying happy make-out sessions, Scarlett is spending time with her true love: hunting. Now, I quite love Scarlett, flaws and all, but there was a very problematic aspect in Scarlett’s narration. She finds these girls she dubs “Dragonflies” – they are pretty, giggly, and blissfully unaware of the supernatural around them. She resents them, she considers them vapid, stupid, and she actually says (well, thinks) that they are bringing on any attacks themselves. She completely victim-blames, and I saw nothing in the text to indicate that we weren’t supposed to agree with her.

The plot finally thickens in the last few pages of the book, and there’s a bit of suspense when we’re unsure of if Rosie’s going to get out of a certain predicament and if they’re all going to survive. (SPOILER ALERT!) I was a bit bummed that they do all survive, although I was happy for Rosie’s sake, because it seemed like a bit of a cop-out. I was extremely displeased with the conclusion of Sisters Red – Rosie and Scarlett split up, and Rosie goes to live with Silas. The sisters should have stayed together! This was supposed to be seen as a happy ending, but I hated it.

Although this book wasn’t quite up to par, I will definitely be reading the sequel. Depending on how I enjoy that will determine whether or not I’ll continue reading Jackson Pearce’s works. I’m hoping Sweetly will succeed where Sisters Red failed, but I’m not going into it with super high expectations.

About the author

I root for young girls neglected by their narrative. I search for diversity in a cast of characters. I do not hesitate to critique something I find offensive or lacking in quality.