Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

My Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3

So I was sitting here at the computer at one in the morning. Jay had left late to come and visit and we predicted he wasn't going to reach the house until roughly 3 a.m. That might sound annoying to a normal person. But I'm not normal in that regard -- I'm a night owl. So while I waited, I started to make a list of books I might like to get at Chapters the next day.

Sisters Red was way up on that list. I love fairy tales and I really love fairy tale retellings. The idea that an author has an opportunity to take a story that many people know and love and enrich it, truly and fully bringing it to life and making it their own, is really cool in my opinion. I feel that Sisters Red is a retelling done very right. It keeps some connection to Little Red Riding Hood, but is not afraid to veer off the path and be something that is truly its own.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

This book moved. From word go I was hooked and it never let up. I loved the fact that there was so much action here and that everything was well described without entering the land of being gross for the sake of shock value. At the same time, the three key characters, Scarlett, Rosie and Silas, all felt well built and the relationships between them are every bit as riveting as the combat sequences.

I liked the distinct thought patterns that we get from each sister. Scarlett's determination to slay the Fenris seems noble, while Rosie's need for a normal life seems completely reasonable. The internal conflict that each of the girls went through added so much weight and depth to the story and made each narrative stand out and remain interesting and distinct. I also liked the fact that Pearce did not take the easy way out. If one of the girls is afraid the other would think "X", odds are you'll find out that yes, indeed, she does. 

The lore that was created to explain how Little Red Riding Hood could make sense as an urban fantasy was brilliant. I had my hunch about the whole Potential thing, but watching the characters strive to solve the mystery of how all of that worked kept me very interested. (I was right, by the way. But I don't mind that.) The bottom line in all that I am saying is that everything worked together well to create an interesting story that kept me turning the pages.

The Characters:

I thin my favorite character was Scarlett. There is no way that I couldn't admire someone who threw herself into the face of danger to save her little sister. And the fact that Scarlett is not a perfect, saintly character, but rather a complex and sometimes misguided young woman, only made her more appealing to me. Her dedication to taking out the Fenris, and in turn saving others from the fate she endured (or worse) is commendable. Yet at the same time she places an insane amount of pressure on Rosie and Silas and cannot grasp the idea that they are not filled with the same level of fanaticism to dedicate their lives to the Fenris destruction that Scarlett herself does.

Don't take that to mean that Rosie was any less interesting or complex. She feels that Scarlett sacrificed a great deal to save her, and that in return show quite literally owes Scarlett her life. With that in mind, she has trained to be a hunter at Scarlett's side. When she begins to consider other things she might like to do with her life, and develops feelings for Scarlett's close friend and hunting partner, Silas, she feels an extreme amount of guilt and confusion. Can she really betray her sister like this? But if she doesn't, can she really call it living, going on with nothing in her life but the hunt? As I said earlier, these are not just simple misunderstandings about the characters. It's testament to the closeness of the sisters that they can tell what the other would likely think or feel. That makes the internal conflicts in Sisters Red every bit as compelling as the battles against the Fenris. 

Silas is the third major character and he balances out the two extremes. It is through Silas that Rosie realizes that it isn't wrong to want something more then being a hunter. At the same time, Silas is very capable at killing the Fenris and is close friends with Scarlett. I found Silas to be incredibly likable, yet at the same time I did not feel that he suffered from being a "vanilla" character either. Sometimes non-brooding / stalker-y / possessive guys can seem bland in a paranormal, but as the book goes on and more is revealed, Silas is just as richly detailed as Scarlett and Rosie. The major cast for Sisters Red is small, and no space is wasted. It's actually quite a feat. 

The Romance: 

I think that this was done well. The romance was not the driving plot of Sisters Red, but it fit into the overall story seamlessly and enhanced every aspect of Rosie, Silas and Scarlett's lives that it touched. When your only remaining family (not counting their totally useless mother) is your sister and you fall for her one and only friend, it tends to touch a lot.

I think it was smart that Rosie and Silas had history through Silas friendship with Scarlett made things make sense. It saved Jackson Pearce from having to explain how they knew each other, allowing how they felt to progress naturally from what they were before -- friends through Scarlett -- to what they eventually became, which was a pretty cute couple.

I can see some people having an issue with the age gap since Rosie is sixteen and Silas is twenty one. It didn't bother me, but it is there. I think it was important and necessary that it be this way, though, because of how the story ends. (What am I talking about? I guess you'll need to read it and see, hm?)

For the part that it was meant to play in Sisters Red, I feel that the romance worked out well and I was cheering for Rosie and Silas to get together. It was not the center of the book, but it also did not take from my enjoyment of it, either.

In General:

This is an interesting and well told story. While the focus is mainly on Scarlett and Rosie, the balance of action, character development and romance actually makes this a title that I will likely be recommending to Jay and Shawn (my brother). The pacing here was excellent and I had no trouble zipping through the story -- I didn't have to coax myself to sit down with this book. I constantly wanted to know what would happen next. The lore that Jackson Pearce came up with for her woodsmen, her Fenris, the purpose of the red cloak that is so generally associated with little red riding hood... Everything was excellent, the knowledge was revealed slowly, causing the readers to follow the characters on a journey of discovery. It was just all around awesome. 

So, would I recommend Sisters Red? Absolutely! This book has a bit of something for everyone and is a worthy addition to any book lover's library, especially if they like fairy tale retellings. 


  1. Great review! This sounds like a great book I've been meaning to get a copy. I'm almost eager to get it now :D

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  2. This book sounds really great! I'll definitely have to read it at some point.

  3. I really loved this book when I read it. I remember sitting in my car at the Canadian border waiting for customs and wondering if I could read it while driving. :D You wrote a great review that really gets into why it's so good!

  4. I really loved this book, too. I thought both Scarlett and Rosie were great characters and I love that even though Rosie wasn't as tough as Scarlett, she was by no means weak and could hold her own. I thought their relationship was incredibly moving, particularly in that last chapter/epilogue.

  5. I really liked this book. It was a new inventive take on little red red riding hood. I liked that the romance of the book wasn't over played. The story had more to it than just love. And it wasn't the annoying twilight kinda love. The book was a bit predictable. I guessed the storyline about 30% of the way in. But still a very good read. There are very few books that cause me to loose track of time or not notice how quickly I'm running through them and this was one of them.

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