Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold - NO

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold, 361 pgs. Harper Collins, 2020. $19.

Language: R (52 swears, 19 'f'); Mature Content: R (alcohol and drug use and graphic on-page sex); Violence: R (graphic on-page killings)



Since the age of four, Bisou has been living a quiet life in Seattle being raised by her grandmother. That changes on the night of homecoming when Bisou finds herself running through the forest pursued by a wolf. In the course of their confrontation, she is able to deftly dispatch the wolf, much to the surprise of both parties. This experience will end up taking Bisou down a path where she must confront both her past and present in order to understand who she is and what this means for everyone she knows and loves.

In the telling of this tale it is obvious that it is giving a twist on the Red Riding Hood fable. However, the violence, sex, and representation of Bisou’s menses are all unnecessarily graphic rendering it inappropriate for its target audience. The fantasy element could have been compelling, but not enough information is given to explain Bisou’s power or the origin of the wolves. It is never made clear how either group gained their respective powers or why more has not been documented about them. It would seem that if there were werewolves and hunters wandering around Seattle, someone would have noticed at some point. The inclusion of the family being French is an irritating affectation as Seattle is not particularly known as a hub for French speakers, and although Meme spent her formative years in Montreal, she left at 18 and did not have contact with her daughter, so it is confusing why Clara would have given her own daughter a French name and spoken French to her. The final detractor that hurts the story is that it is told in second person. This is rarely done by authors and for a good reason. Reading a story told in second person is uncomfortable for many readers and leads to frustration as it becomes difficult to connect with Bisou.


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