Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguié
(Suggested reading level – Young adult)
I’m sticking with the Little Red Riding Hood theme today. Ruth is the main character in this re-telling. Her grandmother, Giselle, has been banished from her village under suspicion of being a witch and now lives alone in a cottage in the forest. Giselle is not a witch, but does know about the beneficial and harmful qualities of plants, studies the stars and the world around her.
It was a miracle that the villagers had been content to only banish her and not burn her. Ruth shook her head. Grandmother is no witch; she just asks questions no one else will and manages to find the answers. (pg. 22)
One day, when she is still a young girl, Ruth and her brother Stephen are attacked by a wolf in the woods. Stephen stabs the wolf and they are both saved, but Ruth’s legs are severely damaged, and though they do heal, the scars remain.
Ruth’s brother and cousin leave town to fight in the Crusades, leaving her to help their father in the blacksmith shop, which she does. While working one day, she meets William, Earl of Launton. This is a romance, so they quickly fall in love and are willing to take any chances so that they can be together. William tells Ruth his secret and she promises to stand by him, even though her father and cousin who has returned are suspicious of William.
In this re-telling, Ruth is a strong woman, literally, she has spent nine years working as a blacksmith. She is capable of taking take care of herself, but William is a charming man, makes her feel beautiful, and accepts and appreciates who she is.
Ruth’s grandmother does echo the moral of the original tale.
“Grandmother, are you warning me about men?” Ruth asked, embarrassed and vaguely amused at the same time.
“I should be; most of them are ill-intentioned toward young women. That’s not what I meant, though. I meant don’t go chasing after strangers. They can be dangerous, especially ones running around in the forest like animals.” (pg. 25)
William is dangerous, his family is cursed, and by marrying him Ruth will be sleeping with a man who becomes a wolf. If you read my comments on Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood” earlier today, you’ll understand what I’m referring to. Here, there’s a happy ending, thanks to Ruth’s trust and her grandmother’s knowledge.
As a re-telling of the fairytale, there were a couple of other things to note. In many interpretations of the original story, the color red’s connection with sex has been emphasized. In this version, the connection with blood is stronger. The red on the blade injured the wolf, the red of the wounds. The red cloak that Giselle makes for Ruth is lined with pieces of Ruth’s dead brother’s armor, armor stained by his blood. It’s protection for Ruth and does save her life.
Also, in this story, the wolf is not the only beast. He wants to control his impulses. There’s another animal, whose brutality is unbelievable, a man who is the true monster.
As a novel in itself, I was a little disturbed by how quickly the two young people declared their love for each other, especially because of their class difference and how little they really knew each other. Also, how easily Ruth accepted William’s secret was a little disturbing. The attraction charming dangerous men hold for young, and old, women is astounding. Ruth was truly risking her life, but after all it was “true love.” And she could save him; he needed her.
“What if I devour you?” he asked at last.
She pulled back slightly and touched one of his eyeteeth with her fingertip. “I hope that you do,” she breathed. (pg. 96)
I guess I’m saying the romance wasn’t that great, rushed and unrealistic. And the whole plot was wrapped up too nicely at the end. It’s like reading candy. A short, enjoyable mix of fairy tale, romance, and werewolves, but nothing to really sink your teeth into.
Tif, from Tif Talks Books, is the hostess of this great feature, Fairy Tale Fridays. Head over there later to see her take on Little Red Riding Hood and to share your own thoughts. Next week, we’ll be looking at a modern version of a classic tale. I’m not sure what I’ll be going with yet, though, maybe I should have saved this one.
Published April 6, 2004 by Simon Pulse
Once Upon a Time Series
Challenges: 100+, A to Z
I borrowed my copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.
I’ve tried a couple fairy tale re-tellings and pretty much felt the same way you did about this one. I’ve kind of decided they’re not for me.
Does seemed rushed, still I would dread it
I think this series has moments of brilliance, and then there are some entries which just do not work, for some reason or another. This was one of those for me. I bought the book and never finished it – the story just didn’t work for me. I’ll hand it to Viguie, though, because her writing was evocative enough that sometimes I was tempted to finish it just to see how the descriptions would go…
If you haven’t read ‘Snow’ yet, do. That’s my favorite in this series (so far).
I like the retelling of fairy tales. I also like YA novels. I rarely find one I don’t like. Great review, good luck with the challenge.
I read this for the last read-a-thon and I did like it, just not as much as others bloggers did. My feelings were similar to yours.
Hmmm . . . I can’t decide if this is one I want to pick up or not! I’m intrigued a bit because of the connection to Little Red Cap. Maybe I will put it on my list, just not as a priority . . .
I’ve read another book by this author, also in the series, and I loved it. I enjoy fairy tale retellings.