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REVIEW: Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley Cartwright




The body of a young girl is discovered in a field of wheat. Her flesh mutilated by telltale claw marks. The Wolf has broken the peace. When Valerie learns that her sister has been killed by the legendary creature, she finds herself at the center of a dark mystery, one that has plagued her village for generations. It is revealed that the werewolf lives among them, and everyone in the village immediately becomes a suspect. Could her secret love Peter be behind the attacks on her town? Is it her betrothed, Henry? Or someone even closer to her? As the men in the village hunt for the beast, Valerie turns to her grandmother for help. She gives Valerie a handmade red riding cloak, and guides her through the web of lies and deception that has held her town together for so long. Will Valerie discover the werewolf's identity before the town is ripped apart? This is a dangerous new vision of a classic fairy tale, the happy ending could be hard to find.

About the Author

Sarah Blakley-Cartwright is twenty-two years old and is a recent cum laude graduate of Barnard College, the greatest place on earth. She is the recipient of the 2008-2009 Mary Gordon Fiction Scholarship Award and the 2009-2010 Lenore Marshall Barnard Prize for Prose. She grew up in Los Angeles and Mexico. She now lives in New York City and writes in Vancouver, BC. Despite what the book may say, she actually prefers wolves to people.


  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy; Mti edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316176044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316176040

ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT  **slight spoilers - don't read beyond paragraph two!**

Before you read my thoughts on Sarah's book, I am making full disclosure.  I first heard about Sarah's book from her mother, whom I have known since before Sarah was born.  I didn't know Sarah even existed until I reconnected with her mom recently and then she mentioned that her daughter had written a book.  I thought, ok, sure, a book.  What Creative Writing / English major doesn't write a book or have a book in the works?  Her mother was vague on the details and it wasn't until I actually met Sarah that I understood that Sarah had written a BOOK and, that book was in my favorite genre:  paranormal young adult!

I received a copy at no charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  My policy has always been that I don't review anything I don't like and I couldn't honestly review a friend's book or even begin to recommend it unless I felt it was wonderful and worthy of praise. This book kept me spellbound until I finished it.  I really could not put it down and then went back and reread it, which is something I usually don't do. This book will stay on my shelf as a keeper.  Sarah should be proud of her work.

The story is a new twist on the Red Riding Hood story and stays true to the historical folktale that I was told as a child.  Well, almost true except for the fact that the wolf in this story terrorizes a town and causes lines to be drawn amongst the townspeople.  Valerie loses her sister to the wolf and this sets off a battle to eradicate the wolf.  Without giving away much plot detail, a priest/mercenary  is brought into the village to get rid of the wolf.  The town becomes divided and doubts are cast between all of the residents.  No one knows who the wolf is or if he lives among them.  This is where the page turning really begins.

Valerie is a sympathetic, yet strong character and makes an excellent foil for Peter, the wood cutter.  Henry is engaged to Valerie and thought she tries to love him, her heart wanders to Peter.  Valerie believes the Henry was really in love with her deceased sister.  Peter, who is the strong, silent type, charms Valerie and they fall in love.  There is a very climatic scene at the end with a vicious battle that should have parental supervision. Overall, Sarah has nicely balanced descriptions and dialogue with action. She has given depth to characters that could have easily been one dimensional.  I am so glad this didn't turn into typical werewolf fare.

One important note should be made that the ending is inconclusive.  I know some other reviewers are not happy with the ending, but I enjoyed the ambiguity.  You can take the ending any way you like and it is not set in stone exactly who the wolf could be:  Valerie's grandmother, Peter, Henry or another unknown.  In March, the book's website (  will post the final chapter for the book.  I can only hope that there might be another book in the works.  I would love to see the story develop.

Parents:  There are several scenes of violence, death and destruction, no real language issues and a few scenes of romance and flirting.  There is use of a "relaxing tea" and a mention of alcohol use.  It is all appropriate to the time period in which the story takes place.  This is best suited for anyone over 14 and those who enjoy a wonderful wolf story.

Again, I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I have one copy to giveaway over at my YA blog HERE
Ends. 2.1.11
Read my Interview with Sarah HERE


  1. This is the one they are making into a movie? With Amanda Seyfried (how do you spell her name) and smexy James Franco? I didn't know it was a book.

  2. Sounds good, I want to read this one!

  3. it sounds like this young author hit the READERs Spot! your review was enjoyable to read. heading over to YA to enter the contest. Someone did a remake of The Three Little Pigs but left it as a children tale.

  4. I read about this over at Forever Young! I think your personal connection is great and I always enjoy fairy tale retellings. Looking forward to it!

  5. I love paranormal romance, young adult or not, and I can't wait to get my hands on this book! Does this have a connection to the movie being released in March?

  6. The book is based on the script for the upcoming movie. Sarah was able to write the book while they were filming it. She also interviewed the actors and base the minor characters on them.


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