Books, Gardens, Dogs

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood - Sarah Blakley-Cartwright, Catherine Hardwicke, David Leslie Johnson Before you read my thoughts on Sarah's book, I am making full disclosure. I first heard about Sarah's book from her mother, whom I have known since before Sarah was born. I didn't know Sarah even existed until I reconnected with her mom recently and then she mentioned that her daughter had written a book. I thought, ok, sure, a book. What Creative Writing / English major doesn't write a book or have a book in the works? Her mother was vague on the details and it wasn't until I actually met Sarah that I understood that Sarah had written a BOOK and, that book was in my favorite genre: paranormal young adult!I received a copy at no charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. My policy has always been that I don't review anything I don't like and I couldn't honestly review a friend's book or even begin to recommend it unless I felt it was wonderful and worthy of praise. This book kept me spellbound until I finished it. I really could not put it down and then went back and reread it, which is something I usually don't do. This book will stay on my shelf as a keeper. Sarah should be proud of her work.The story is a new twist on the Red Riding Hood story and stays true to the historical folktale that I was told as a child. Well, almost true except for the fact that the wolf in this story terrorizes a town and causes lines to be drawn amongst the townspeople. Valerie loses her sister to the wolf and this sets off a battle to eradicate the wolf. Without giving away much plot detail, a priest/mercenary is brought into the village to get rid of the wolf. The town becomes divided and doubts are cast between all of the residents. No one knows who the wolf is or if he lives among them. This is where the page turning really begins.Valerie is a sympathetic, yet strong character and makes an excellent foil for Peter, the wood cutter. Henry is engaged to Valerie and thought she tries to love him, her heart wanders to Peter. Valerie believes the Henry was really in love with her deceased sister. Peter, who is the strong, silent type, charms Valerie and they fall in love. There is a very climatic scene at the end with a vicious battle that should have parental supervision. Overall, Sarah has nicely balanced descriptions and dialogue with action. She has given depth to characters that could have easily been one dimensional. I am so glad this didn't turn into typical werewolf fare.One important note should be made that the ending is inconclusive. I know some other reviewers are not happy with the ending, but I enjoyed the ambiguity. You can take the ending any way you like and it is not set in stone exactly who the wolf could be: Valerie's grandmother, Peter, Henry or another unknown. In March, the book's website ( will post the final chapter for the book. I can only hope that there might be another book in the works. I would love to see the story develop.Parents: There are several scenes of violence, death and destruction, no real language issues and a few scenes of romance and flirting. There is use of a "relaxing tea" and a mention of alcohol use. It is all appropriate to the time period in which the story takes place. This is best suited for anyone over 14 and those who enjoy a wonderful wolf story.Again, I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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