“I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter.”
Source: Given As A Gift
Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Published: June 7th 2010
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Dark, Fairytale Retellings
First Line: “Strangers never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged toward them.”
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 a 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 axe and is Scarlett’s only friend – but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?
When I originally added this book to my ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads, it was one of those additions that was more of a spur-of-the-moment decision than a well thought-out one. I had first heard of this book on YouTube from TheArtsyGal12 and had seen it pop up numerous times afterwards, but never took the time to really put any research into the book. However, I heard that it was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and as that is my favourite fairytale, how could I not add it to the list? Nevertheless, when I opened the wrapping of this present on my birthday and the title of the book was revealed I was thrilled all the same.
I did decide to read this book for the Booktubeathon readathon (despite how much of a flop my participation in the event turned out to be) and after reading The Hobbit, it was everything that I had been searching for for my next read. Dark, suspenseful, thrilling and taunt, it was such a fast action-packed read that had me enthralled the entire journey.
Firstly, I’d like to start by advising against reading the blurb on the back of the book (or at least the edition I read, the one of the image pasted above). DON’T DO IT! JUST DON’T! It gave away major clues as to the key plot twist of the story, and for most of this read I was wondering when the-thing-in-the-blurb-which-I-will-not-have-the-audacity-to-name-but-was-present-none-the-less was going to happen and when it did, it was past the 3/4 mark! So while I give a thumbs up to this story, I give a frown and a stubbed toe to whoever wrote the blurb.
I’ll jump straight into my most highly-regarded part of any book – the characterisation! I LOVED Scarlett and Rosie. Their relationship dynamic was one of my favourite aspects to this novel, mostly due to both how realistic their characters individually were and how they closely they interacted with each other. Particularly within the young-adult, paranormal genre, you rarely get the opportunity to really explore the bond of siblings – either the protagonist is an only child, their sibling is a prat or they just aren’t altogether that close with them. It was invigorating to see such a tight-knit relationship between siblings as I think that family should certainly have a higher emphasis on more books within this genre. The way their relationship was described was so heart-breaking and it just touched your heart to see them go to all ends to fight for each other, two halves of one whole.
While it is extremely difficult for me to pick a favourite out of the two girls, I think Scarlett wins out just marginally. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the layers to her character as she had so much hidden depth! She was so strong, fierce and protective of her sister – and you feel such an intense sympathy for her as she compares her scars to her sister’s beauty. It was saddening to have to hear her true thoughts on feeling like an outcast for being marred and ‘ugly’. That dichotomy of ugliness to beauty was interestingly addressed too – even though Scarlett was scarred all over, the beauty of her character was easily on par with Rosie’s. Not only that, but Scarlett is seriously one hell of a badass. I mean, come on. Just look at her wickedly sharp hatchet.
Rosie was a much softer, sweet character which I also appreciated for the contrast to Scarlett. I found her to be extremely relatable, and she represented the perspective that I think many young girls would take if put into her position. She knew of her duty to protect innocent, oblivious young girls from the monsters that lurked in the streets but at the same time, she can’t help but pine for a different life. Truth be told, in any other mishandled circumstance she probably would’ve been the kind of character I would have resented, however her character was written so well that I didn’t end up having a problem with her at all – I loved her!
As for Silas, I wasn’t so fond of him. I didn’t feel that he had anywhere as near as much depth as the sisters and seemed quite flat. He was nice sure enough and the passion between Rosie and he was undeniable, but I would’ve liked to see a few more sides to him than the one side that was shown.
This leads into the next topic – the romance. For a large portion of this book, I actually didn’t know whether I liked Rosie and Silas together or not! It was written in a very intoxicating, addictive style that really intensified the passion between them and I think that part was executed extremely well, as it had a good balance of darkness and realism that any romance in that kind of situation I would expect would have. However, I can’t help but think that their relationship progressed a little too quickly. I know they have been childhood friends for a very long time and that when they first saw each other again it was primarily physical attraction that drove them together, but I still think that it felt a bit too rushed. I didn’t like how the term ‘love’ was introduced so quickly in regard to them and it was said too prematurely in the relationship besides. This is a pet peeve of mine, admittedly – I do not like it when characters claim ‘love’ for each other too early on.
The wolves were one of my favourite aspects. They were absolutely TERRIFYING! They were such a fresh, new take on werewolves that were a perfect mix of eeriness and terror. Readers could easily see the parallels between these wolves and the predators that actually lurk our streets at night – that was the most frightening part of their role, I’d say. They always had such a foreboding and hair-raising presence on the page and watching them hunt just sent chills running down your spine.
In terms of plot, I think that it was very interesting, even if a little basic. The novel itself was like a vanilla cake – delicious, but it’s the frosting and decorations that really finish it off. The dark aspects, the characterisation and the interesting spin on the classic fairytale were these embellishments. The plot twist, though, wasn’t much of a plot twist as I suspected it from the start. Again, the blurb really gave too much away, but I would’ve suspected it anyway – it was definitely the kind of twist you could see coming from page one. I did enjoy the Dragonfly metaphor though (for those who have read the book) as well as their grandmother’s shadows/sunshine story. It was integrated very well into the storyline and the helped with the development of their situation. I also give Kudos for the ending. I loved the way the epilogue was written, it was all sad and happy and sweet and nostalgic all at once, written in an unfamiliar yet refreshing style.
Stylistically, the dual perspective really surprised me. Usually I’m not too fond of double-gender perspectives as they can sound very similar when alternating between characters, but Rosie and Scarlett’s voices were so distinctive that I didn’t get confused at all between the two. The story also had a great pace to it and even though some action sequences felt too common and repetitive, it mostly kept you on your toes. I really appreciated the language within the book – it was concise and straight to the point, but some phrases…man, could they take your breath away.
All in all, Sisters Red was a very dark, mysterious and suspenseful read. It gave me precisely the kind of read I was looking for at that time and it was extremely enjoyable despite its faults. Would recommend to lovers of dark fantasy, paranormal and action.