Sarah Blakley-Cartwright: Red Riding Hood (2011) The Book Based on the Movie

Valerie’s sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henri, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.
After her sister’s violent death, Valerie’s world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the werewolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But no one is safe. When an expert wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them – it could be anyone in town.
It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the Blood Moon wanes . . . or everyone she loves will die..

A few months ago I was browsing the Internet looking for the website of Fever Ray and that’s how I found the trailer of the movie Red Riding Hood for which Fever Ray has done the soundtrack.

There are hundreds of fairytale retellings out there. The range is incredible. From literary fiction to pulpy trash you find everything.

Ever since I have read Angela Carter’s Fairytale retellings and watched the movie The Company of Wolves I had a particular liking for the Little Red Riding Hood retellings. It has a few powerful elements that not all other fairy tales have, first of all the wolf and the red cloak. When it comes to the original fairytale it is far from being one of my favourites but what it inspires newer authors to do is often interesting.

For these reasons there was no way around the book Red Riding Hood as soon as I discovered it. The book is actually based on the movie, which makes the marketing strategy clear. This is even enhanced once you realize that what you hold in your hand isn’t the complete book. The last chapter is missing and can only be read online. This isn’t such a problem by now, as the movie has been released, but when I started reading, the chapter wasn’t accessible yet because the movie wasn’t playing.

The wolf in this version, like in some of the other retellings, is a werewolf. During the Blood Moon he lurks in the darkness and comes out of his hiding to kill the people of Daggorhorn. He hasn’t done so for a long time because he normally gets an offering but different circumstances lead to the killing of Valerie’s sister and from there to the death of other villagers. There is no stopping the wolf anymore.

The book works pretty much like a paranormal thriller. It is suspected that the werewolf must be from the village. Someone among the people they all know is transforming himself during the Blood Moon. Like in a proper thriller, there are many suspects. Red herrings abound and you really have to read until the final (online) chapter to find out who is the killer. Insofar it is quite gripping. I think it is possible to find out who it is but it is still entertaining.

What did not work for me are the characters. With the exception of the grandmother they are quite flat and interchangeable. The grandmother however is interesting, a witch-like, potion-cooking old woman who lives outside of society.

Another thing I didn’t like are the inconsistencies in the story. I had a feeling it was written very fast and there were really tacky moments too.

This probably sounds as if I had regretted to read this book but this is absolutely not the case. The descriptions are what I really liked. The little village, lost in the forest, the narrow medieval streets, the picturesque settings and most of all the house of the grandmother. The description of that house made the whole reading worthwhile. The grandmother lives in a tree house, outside of the fear-ridden village, high above everyone else. The interior of that house, the security it provides, is described very appealingly. I’m not going into details, those who want to read the novel should discover this for themselves.

All in all it was a fast read, a bit boring at times but still enjoyable and worthwhile thanks to the descriptions and settings. I shouldn’t forget to mention that there is also a romance part in the novel that did not work so well, or rather, the conflict keeping the lovers apart didn’t work.

I think you gathered that it is nowhere near as good as other retellings of the fairytale that’s why I decided to dedicate another post to a few of the really stunning examples.

Here is the Book’s Homepage with the final chapter.

I haven’t seen the movie yet but I might watch it since I like Fever Ray and Gary Oldman.

Red Riding Hood is my first contribution to the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

21 thoughts on “Sarah Blakley-Cartwright: Red Riding Hood (2011) The Book Based on the Movie

  1. Shame that the book isn’t great, I’m looking forward to seeing the film but it looks more like something I’ll wait for on DVD.
    I love retellings but need to get out and read more. For the OUaT challenge I’m reading a book which is a collection of retellings ‘My Mother She Killed Me, My Father he Ate Me’ they have been good so far.

    • It is a shame really but I think we are spoilt. Especially Little Riding Hood exists in some great versions. I will watch the movie. The book your reading sound interesting. I’m looking forward to your review. Emma Donoghue’s Kissing The Witch is great. I’m halfway through, really good. .

  2. I like the cover of this book. Not sure I’m interested in the movie – but I did add The Company of Wolves to my list to check out. And thanks for the reminder to also check out Angela Carter. 🙂

    • I did like the cover as well but it wasn’t a must read, that’s for sure. The movie does look a bit Twilightish, no wonder since it’s the same director, so I’m not too sure but think I will watch it anyway. The Company of Wolves is very good and I haven’t read anything by Angela Carter that wasn’t great.

  3. I think this might be a case of I’d rather just watch the movie than read the book. Interesting that they make you go online to read the last chapter, though. What was that like? Were they trying to entice you to buy something or sell more books?

    • It was frustrating because I was almost finished and had to wait two weeks because it was accessible as they waited for the movie release. I really think they wanted people to be aware of the movie. Now that it is accessible I don’t like the idea that my book is missing the final capter and I could even lend it to someone going on a holiday withouth the person having access to the internet. And it is one of the best chapters… All in all I?m not thrilled by the idea.

      • Yes, that would be very annoying not to have the last part of the book. I understand wanting to market a book, but that seems like it wouldn’t be the best idea really.

        • I like an original idea and it was sort of fun for a change anyway (although a hindrance) but I seriuously hope this is the first and the last time I bought a book like that.

  4. I’ll watch the film as I’m a Gary Oldman fan too. I think RRH is a very strange tale indeed–deep with all sorts of meaning. Not that I feel like reading it again, but it’s one of those stories you don’t forget.

    • I really like Gary Oldman but I’m afraid it could be the only truly good thing in the movie. Little Red Riding Hood isn’t my favourite fairytale but the symbols are among the most powerful. I will do a separate post on some of the stunning versions I found.

  5. Nice review…tho I am not sure I want to read books with flat characters.

    A lot of movie lovers sort of despise the movie as they look at it as something similar to Twillight. I am indifferent toward this movie.

    • Thnaks. It is disappointing when characters are flat. I really liked the description of that house and the forest. Occasionally someting little like that can make me enjoy a book. The trailer does look a bit like Twilight, on the other hand I have hard time imagining Gary Oldman would do something that is not good.

  6. I’ve not read any great reviews of the film, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to see it. The book concept sounds interesting…especially not including the last chapter until the film was released!

    • I enjoy something different once in a while therefore I found it funny but I also wanted to fiish the book and couldn’t. I haven’t read any movie reviews but the intense colors we see in the trailer fascinate me.

  7. I took my children to the theatre once and it was fairy tales. We saw a version of Little Riding Hood with a voiceover and films on the background that where openly refering to paedophilia. The wolf was a man disguised with a wolf mask and he was chasing the Little Riding Hood. The children watched it innocently. We parents were terribly ill at ease, at the point that we talked to other parents at the end of the show. We all needed to dispel our uneasiness with what we’d just watched.

    This makes me think I really liked Bruno Bettelheim’s Psychanalyse des contes de fées.

    • I can see how that could make you uneasy. Luckily the children did not get all of it. When I first read a few of the Contes de Perrault I was a bit shocked. They are very violent, the Grimm versions are much gentler.
      I like that Bettelheim book a lot. I have actually read more books about fairy tales than tales themselves. There are so many interesting aspects. I really love the versions of Angela Carter. I think she is the English writer with the most varied vocabulary.

      • Well, according to Bettelheim, the children unconsciously understood it. I found the Bettelheim fascinating.

        And yes, you’re right fairy tales can be really violent.

        I read last year The Beauty and the Beast by Madame de Villeneuve. I was disappointed as I expected something more “Voltaire”, using the fairy tale to criticize her time. But I was also surprised by the crude way the Beast propositioned the Beauty. My daughter is currently studying Madame de Beaumont’s version in school, I should read it too.

        • Angela Carter and Emma Donoghue have bothe done retellings of The Beauty and the Beast and they are both quite beautiful. Yes, Voltaire took the apart and played with the expectations of the readers. A bit what Jane Austen did with the Gothic novel in Northanger Abbey.

  8. Pingback: The Company of Wolves, Bloodmantle and other Retellings of The Little Red Riding Hood « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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