Published by Balzer & Bray on February 25, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Source: Edelweiss, Blog Tour
My content rating: Mature YA (Themes of murder and sexual assault; Violence; Sexual content)
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.
Elana K. Arnold, National Book Award finalist and author of the Printz Honor book Damsel, returns with a dark, engrossing, blood-drenched tale of the familiar threats to female power—and one girl’s journey to regain it.
This book is a dark, brutal retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, an unflinching exploration of the victimization of women. It is not for the faint of heart, and I’m honestly a little unsure if I’d recommend it to the average YA reader. If you’re going to read this book, you need to know what you’re getting into. Not only are there many triggers in it, but Arnold pulls no punches when she depicts sex and violence (and menstruation, which is a big part of the story and is often described in vivid detail). That being said, it’s also incredibly powerful and will most certainly leave an impression. And the storytelling itself is masterful—I found myself flying through the book, eager to find out how the events would unfold. I was also surprisingly fond of the second-person narration (meaning that the story is told with “you” as the pronoun, as if Bisou is telling herself the story—and putting you right in the main character’s shoes).
I loved the way that friendships were highlighted in this book, showing that girls are so much stronger when they support each other. I also really appreciated that, in the midst of a lot of horrible situations involving men, Arnold also depicts Bisou’s thriving relationship with a wonderful guy who loves and supports her unconditionally (along with including a few other upstanding male characters). This was a breath of fresh air in a book that could have felt like it was saying all men are evil. I’ll confess that some of the themes and messages in this book left me unsettled—I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about all of it (I can’t go into detail without major spoilers). But the book opens up room for important dialogue, and it certainly got me thinking. That right there is enough to feed my fiction addiction.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss and FFBC blog tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
ELANA K. ARNOLD is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets.
(Also check out the second giveaway on Instagram.)
Win 1 copy of RED HOOD by Elana K. Arnold (US Only). Ends 3/3/20.