Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright


DSC04553I received this novel in a pile of books that was a farewell gift from one of my lovely year ten classes when I left my job at the end of last year.

It took me a while to get into the novel, which is based on the screenplay of the film Red Riding Hood written by David Leslie Johnson. It’s basically a reinvention of the old classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood. It is written in third person and I found Valerie’s point of view a bit frustrating. However, once the characters of Henry and Peter have more of a voice it gets much more interesting. I also liked the intrigue of not knowing what Peter’s past was and of course a love triangle always adds a bit of interest even if it is cliche.

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One of my biggest criticisms of this book is a simple one: the blurb on the back gives it ALL away! The events right up to about halfway in to the novel are outlined. The main example of this is the death of Valerie’s sister which happens quite late in the novel is casually mentioned on the back. I guess this could be because there is an assumption that readers have seen the movie, but as someone who hadn’t seen it I didn’t appreciate the spoiler.

Valerie, also known as Red Riding Hood, is an annoying protagonist. The first criticism I have of her is that she is always SO sure that she knows that one or another character is the wolf. Then the next moment she is SO certain that it’s another character! AND you actually never find out who the wolf is for sure, the last page directs you to a website. Yes, a website. I did look for it but couldn’t find it, so even now it’s a mystery. I found that very frustrating.
The second criticism I have of Valerie is that she is indecisively decisive about her relationships. One minute she is opening her heart to Henry and realising that Peter isn’t the boy she fell in love with as a child anymore, and the next she’s desperately throwing herself at Peter and getting it on in some dark corner of a barn. It’s the worst. She’s a silly girl who thinks she’s more special than she actually is. Harsh I know, but true. Well, maybe she’s alright, but I found her frustrating and a poor role model for young female readers.

One thing I did kind of like about the novel was the werewolf twist, which might be a bit obvious but it worked well. Sorry if that’s a spoiler but to be honest I’m not really recommending this one! It was also intersting how religion was tied in with the werewolf plot, but it could have been dealt with better. The book itself is also quite pretty and has some nice decorative pages throughout it.

I quite enjoyed reading this in the way that watching a terrible movie can sometimes be quite fun. I can’t say I rate it very highly but I think I have a soft spot because it was a cute gift to get from my students.

My overall rating is 1/5.

Has anyone else read it or seen the movie? I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts.

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