Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Pearce mixes werewolves and classic fairy tales to create a lushly romantic story of two sisters who hunt the Fenris, werewolves who roam in search of adolescent girls to eat. Along with her younger sister, Rosie, Scarlett March was orphaned and nearly killed at age 11 by a Fenris who destroyed her grandmother and left her missing an eye. Eight years later, the sisters have become fierce hunters, avenging their grandmother and protecting unknowing young women with the help of their neighbor, a young woodsman named Silas, who wields a mean axe. Silas loves Rosie, but hesitates to come between the sisters' strong bond. Scarlett and Rosie alternate narrating chapters, giving the reader a clear view of their inner conflicts. Despite plenty of gore and werewolf transformations, it's the compelling love stories that drive the tale—the sisters' affection for each other, the first breathless flush of infatuation between Rosie and Silas, and Scarlett's love of the hunt.(Summary from Booklist taken off Amazon)

I received this ARC as part of a traveling tour from We Love YA Tours.  With a week turnaround time and NaNoWriMo I had to read in every snatch of time I got.  The doctor's office-she asked "And now the most important question Is that book any good?"  She thought it was by Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame.  I live in Massachusetts.  They live for Gregory Maguire.  Wicked is a very big descriptive word up here.  So I'll say this  Sister Red was Wicked Good! 

This is the tale basically of Little Red Riding Hood, in a different version, when she's all grown up and they are sisters.  I'm going to try not to give anything away.  The summary tells you that the wolf eats Oma March and the woodsman takes the two orphaned girls in until their mother comes home to care for them.  She had run away to the circus, but is motherly enough to come back and stay with the girls for a little while.  At least until she can't stand to see Scarlett's scars anymore and then it's off to the circus again.  But the woodsman looks after the girls, he has many children of his own.  And he and Oma March had been good friends.

Scarlett's scars are extensive and criss-cross  her entire body.  When the wolf killed Oma March, she broke a mirror and pushed her sister under the bed and she fought the wolf.  He took her eye and left scars everywhere, except over her heart.  This is significant because the girls, though two years apart in age, believe they share a heart.  They believed when they were little that their heart broke in two because half of them wanted to be born first, Scarlett, and then Rosie braved the world later.  As little girls they believed this but after the attack, the only time their hearts felt as one was when they were on the hunt for Fenris-the wolves that attacked and ate young girls.

This story is basically about the deep love between two sisters, the responsibility Scarlett feels to hunt the Fenris and Rosie's need for something more.  There is a lot of guilt on Rosie's part because her sister bears the scars of protecting her and the hunt and Rosie doesn't feel she can separate from her sister.  But Silas, Scarlett's hunting partner lures her away from a life of hunting and tries to show her a life beyond just hunting.  For Scarlett, anything but hunting is an act of betrayal.  For Silas, he can hunt and still have a life.
For Rosie's a choice between the two people she loves.

But another story going on is the hunt for the Potential, a human that has all the right things to be turned into a Fenris and the Fenris are on the prowl, first in the girls' small town and then when Scarlett, Rosie and Silas head to Atlanta where there are a lot of killings, they hear Fenris talking of the Potential.  But they know so little of this Potential.  What makes him what he is and their greatest resource, Silas' father, the woodsman, is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's.

There is a lot of action in this novel mixed with a little bit of  budding romance and lots of fighting and gore.  Not the kind that turns your stomach, just descriptive enough.  I knew who the Potential was pretty early but you may not guess.  Pearce just left the hint way too soon for it not to be the person I thought it was no matter how far off she tried to lead.  This was fast paced and a great take on the Little Red Riding Hood story.  Each character had something to add, but Silas wasn't a fully developed character.  However, this was after all Sisters Red and the two sisters were given every other chapter to narrate and let us see into their minds.

I'd love to see Pearce do another fairy tale.  I've just recently read Beastly, a take on Beauty and the Beast and the modern telling of the old versions make for really great reading.  I love the grown up versions of Red Riding Hood.  I definitely recommend this to anyone that loves fairy tales, suspense, mystery, YA, or just a good read.  I'd say it's clean enough for any age to read.  Just depends on the gore factor.  And a big  thanks to We Love YA Tours for letting me have a chance to read this one!!

Heather in Sandwich


  1. Great review, Heather! I quite liked this one, though I felt it lagged at a few points. :)

  2. I really enjoyed this one as well, I love fairytale retellings and I thought this one was interesting and different. Scarlett bothered me at times, but I loved Rosie and Silas and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with them in the next book:) Really nice review Heather!

  3. I definitely want to read this one, now! Great review :) When I first went to get it at B & N they didn't have it in stock. Have you seen Jackson Pearce's video of "Writer's Block" to Tick-Tock by Ke$sha? It so funny! It's on You Tube.

  4. That video on You Tube is hysterical!! My husband watched it with me and we were both laughing so that my kids had to see what was going on. We aren't cool in any way so that we knew the song was astounding to them! She's got a great sense of humor. Thanks for showing that to me.

    Heather in Sandwich


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