Book Reviews

Book Review: Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.
And the wolf is angry.

Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.

Title: Red Hood
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Digital ARC
Publication Date: February 25th, 2020
Rating: 3//5

I’ve put off writing this review for WEEKS because I’ve been unsure of how to talk about this book.

Red Hood is a very loose Little Red Riding Hood retelling. Our story is told by Bisou – but its actually written in second person narration.

Although I didn’t hate this book, there is a 0% chance I would’ve read it if I knew it was second narration. I have zero desire to read anything in second narration, its just awkward and weird.

But now onto the plot -the book starts out with Bisou (you) at a party, and from there her and her boyfriend go into the woods to ~get down~ but she gets her period and runs away!

Why is her getting her period important you ask? Because that is about 80% of the plot of this book.

Getting your period = sensing the wolves.

Now I have NOTHING against normalizing menstruation in literature and day to day life. It’s normal, it happens every month to MILLIONS of people. But there’s only so many times I can hear about it in one story. I felt like every other paragraph talked about it being that time of the month, or talked about inserting tampons. I don’t want all that.

The part of the story I found most interesting – and most frustrating – was the wolves. I don’t want to get too spoiler-y, but you find out about the wolves in the first chapter so its not a spoiler IMO.

Wolves = male predators. The college boy that used the date rape drug on a girl, the guy who couldn’t take no for an answer, the older man leering at a 15 year old girl. All wolves are men, but not all men are wolves.
I really loved this concept. Do these men start turning into wolves once they become shitty people? Or has the wolf always been inside them so they’re forced to act that way? The entirety of what wolves were and why they were was fascinating.

I loved this world, this glimpse of supernatural powers – the wolves and those that are destined to fight them.

But here was my problem with the wolf thing. How do you get rid of the big bad wolf? You kill it. But even after the wolves are killed, and they turn back into their human counterparts, there’s never any remorse shown. Every character involved in the wolf-killing is just like “eh it was a bad, evil wolf and they’re dead now”. There’s no breaking down, realizing that they just took a human life. This, more than anything, is why I didn’t love this book. I wanted some sort of internal struggle, some ethical and moral breakdown moments of “is doing something bad for the right reasons, good?”.

It was also really hard to feel any connection to Bisou. Her friends (whose names I cannot remember) are characters we actually get to know and love through the eyes of Bisou. But since the story is told in second person, its difficult to really get a sense of who Bisou is. With all the struggles she went through I never really cared or worried about what was going to happen to her, even though the entire story is told through her eyes, there’s never really any connection with her.

I really liked the idea of this story, it was a new and interesting take on Little Red Riding Hood, but in the end it fell a bit short for me. Character development really makes or breaks a story for me, and in this case it just wasn’t enough for me.

Red Hood is officially on sale TODAY. So pick up your own copy and let me know what you think!

Thank you Edelweiss+ for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

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