Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beware the Wolves: Book Review of Sisters Red

Last post I mentioned the trend of fairy-tales and mythology popping up in books recently, and how many of them are ending up on my to-read list. Well, one of these fairy-tale "revisions" is Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (whom I also blogged about several posts back). 

I heard about this book because other blogger mentioned Jackson's newest book, Sweetly (a companion book set in the same "fairy-tale" world). I looked up both books on goodreads and instantly fell in love with their covers and concepts. Soon after, Sweetly released and I bought both books on Amazon. (I even got signed book plates for each book from Jackson through a "special contest" she was running the first week of her new release.) And I wasn't disappointed in my purchase!

The Book...

by Jackson Pearce

"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 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 ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?" (via

My Thoughts...

Sisters Red is a YA fantasy that takes the basic idea of "Little Red Riding Hood" (wolves are the bad guys and girls wear red hoods), but takes it to a deeper and higher level of the "watch out and stay on the path" tale. It modernizes the world of the "fairy-tale" (it's literally modern day), but it still holds that fantasy feel to it since magic is real. (Everything about the Fenris ("werewolves") is magical and their legend/culture is pulled from many different sources.) And while the plot centers around an adventurous mystery, the heart of the story is about its characters: the March sisters and their friend. Though it has its darker moments and feel to it, it isn't overtly gruesome, gory, and scary. It's a good blending of light and hopeful moments mixed in with the fighting and suspense.

This book had so many things I love: mystery, "damaged" yet strong characters, magic/mythology, inner struggles along with outer struggles, and a little bit of romance (but the sweet, endearing kind). It also has an interesting style of how each chapter is laid out and its story-telling POV (points of view).

1) Characters: The main characters are sisters Rosie and Scarlett, who claim to have a "shared heart". The symbolism of this metaphor shows how their closeness evolves throughout the story. Each sister is the opposite of the other, but in many ways they are two halves of one whole. Rosie is sweet and naive (not about the Fenris, but about the nature of the hunt and the world itself). Her motives have always been to please her sister, but as she grows through her experiences, she begins to become her own person and not merely half a heart. Scarlett is tough and scarred in more ways than her physical appearance. She feels jaded by the world, living only for the hunt and for the companionship of her sister and her best friend. And because of this, she can come across rather strong and off-putting at times. But as the story develops, the reader gets to look deeper into her hardened heart and realizes she's just as sensitive as Rosie about some things. And then there's the best friend/love interest woodsman, Silas. He works as a good counterpart to both sisters though he's different than what I imagined from the goodreads/back cover blurb (see above). He's a pretty good guy who wants to live outside the hunt, and if he were real, I would like to hang out with him as well as have on my side in a fight. Plus his name is SILAS! (My youngest brother's name is Silas. I've always thought it was a cool name so I'm somewhat partial towards any book that uses it. *wink*)

2) Plot:I won't say much about the plot since I don't want to give anything away, but I enjoyed the mystery of it. Fairy-tale mythology is nicely woven into the world and creates a suspenseful mystery involving the sisters and the wolves. But as much as fighting the Fenris and solving the mystery are important to the plot, I felt it was also a journey of discovery for each character. Each action has an affect or consequence on their decisions and lives, be it taking on a pack of Fenris or going to the grocery store or taking guitar lessons. Family, friendships, and potential relationships are tested along the way. (Though I will admit to "guessing" certain aspects of the plot before they were "revealed" to the reader. It didn't take away from the story at all though, and sometimes increased my drive to read because I wanted to see if I was right or not. Perhaps I've read too many fairy-tales or perhaps it's because I'm a writer and my brain thinks differently. *shrugs*)

3) Setting: The story takes place in two "cities" in Georgia: the small rural town of Ellison and the urban city of Atlanta. Each is described in a way that makes you feel a part of the town/city, but the descriptions don't overwhelm the reader. Ellison is a fictional town, but you wouldn't have guessed it. It's based on several small Georgia towns so it has a real feel to it. I liked the realistic settings, which made the story more believable in some ways.

4) POV: Both the prologue and the epilogue of this book are written in 3rd person POV (she, them, it, etc) while the main chapters are written in 1st person (I, me, etc) alternating views of the two sisters. While each girl clearly has her own voice and identity, the chapters are marked with the narrator's name so the reader doesn't get confused. (I stopped paying attention to these titles, but it was nice to have them just in case.) I thought it put an interesting spin of the story since I could get inside each sister and see things through their eyes. Sometimes I sided with Rosie more, but after "seeing" into Scarlett's mind I would agree with her more. It also helped flesh out their inner struggles and the psychological process of their decisions.

Definitely recommend this book to any lover of dark fairy-tales, YA books, and strong character pieces. Enjoy!

Meet the Author...

"Jackson Pearce is twenty-six years old and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy. She auditioned for the circus once, but didn’t make it; other jobs she’s had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist. In addition, Jackson coaches both colorguard and winterguard at a local high school.

Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn’t tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve. Her parents thought it was cute at first, but have grown steadily more concerned for her ever since.

Jackson is the author of SISTERS RED, AS YOU WISH, and the SISTERS RED companion book, SWEETLY." (via official author website)

(Elvish Farewell)

(You might have noticed I've changed the style of my "book review" posts. When I first started doing reviews on here, it was rather informal and not meant to be a constant thing. But now I'm trying to "standardize" my review posts in order to help streamline my blog. I used this style for my Monarch review post and will be trying it out for the next few reviews. We'll see how it works.)

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