My first contribution to the Once Upon a Time Challenge V was the novel Red Riding Hood based on the movie. As you can read here I wasn’t too impressed with it.
Meanwhile I’ve seen the movie as well. It’s a visual treat, I enjoyed it but it isn’t as good as The Company of Wolves which is much more mysterious.
The Brother Grimm tale, The Little Red Riding Hood has fascinated people since forever. The dense forest, the wolf, the red cloak are such powerful images. It is certainly one o the fairy tales with the most retellings.
There is a nice collection by Jack Zipes called The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. It contains a huge range starting with the tale by Charles Perrault to more contemporary versions like the Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves. Carters story can also be found in her collection of fairytale retellings The Bloody Chamber. There are actually two versions in it. A very short sketch and one that is a bit longer.
I read Zipes book a few years ago and was impressed by how many different versions there are but there was none that I really liked. The Company of Wolves as a story is less convincing than the movie based on it. And there are other retellings in The Bloody Chamber that I liked much more.
The one re-telling that really impressed me is Tanith Lee’s Bloodmantle from her collection Forests of the Night. It can also be found in Wild Women. Tanith Lee’s stories can serve as proof that there is more to fantasy than meets the eye. If there is one writer who is capable of writing literary fantasy it is certainly Tanith Lee. Her writing is poetical, imaginative and very original. Here is what she says about Bloodmantle.
The forests of the mind are benighted, dark and dazzling places. Things wander there that shine, and burn, and bite.
Much of my writing, long and short, begins with nothing more – or less – than a feeling. The nearest I can come to describing this is to relate it to those curious unremembered memories, triggered maybe by a scent, or a certain seasonal light. Bloodmantle started in just that way, a sensation. Then quickly followed the notion of Roman Lupercal as a werewolf-finding feast. Wolves are creatures that live most definitely in my mind forests. I meet them with the primitive and often irrational wolf-fear, but also in fascinated love.
The girl in th red cloak of course most of us know. Innocence can be cruel.
In Bloodmantle the woman or girl isn’t only a victim. The roles change and there is potential to do harm in both, the man and the woman. The story isn’t very long but rich and multilayered, with a story inside of the story, a tale transmitted from days long gone, and a part that takes place in our contemporary world. The wolf is as much perpetrator as prey, half man, half animal and also ghost.
A very artful picture book Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by Daniel Egnéus came out this year. I discovered it during the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Here is Chris’ review that contains some of the truly wonderful pictures.
You can also find something about Daniel Egnéus here