Saturday, April 4, 2009

Scarlet Moon - Debbie Viguie

Summary: Ruth's grandmother lives in the forest, banished there for the "evil" that the townsfolk believed she practiced. But if studying the stars, learning about nature, and dreaming of flying is evil, then Ruth is guilty of it too. Whenever Ruth took food and supplies to her grandmother, she would sit with the old woman for hours, listening and learning.
When she wasn't in the woods, Ruth was learning the trade of her father, a blacksmith, now that her brother would never return from the Crusades.
Amidst those dark days, a new man enters Ruth's life. William is a noble with a hot temper and a bad name, and he makes her shiver. But the young man is prey to his heritage, a curse placed on his family ages ago, and each male of the family has strange blood running in his veins. Now Ruth must come face-to-face with his destiny at Grandma's house...

My review: I think I'm a little late at this, but I need to go over what, I feel, are essential qualities of any good fairytale retelling. First, the story needs to have enough HINTS of the original fairytale to be considered a retelling (with all the requisite happy endings) but not so many that it's blatantly obvious and annoying. If the book is too much like the original (with exact scenes or phrasing) it gets cheesy. If it is too little like the original, the author's attempts to tie it to the book are usually sloppy and random (see Water Song). Second, any pieces of the original tale MUST subtly blend with the author's own story, so that you are left wondering if, perhaps, you've actually just read the real story that the fairytale was based on. Finally, a fairytale either needs to be retold in a completely different setting or time than the original story, or at the very least, there must be something in the story that makes it entirely different from the original (like a BALD Rapunzel ;). These qualities are almost always (assuming an ability to write) a fun way to give an old classic a new flavor and allow you to read your favorite stories from childhood over and over again through different eyes. There. Now that that's out of the way.

Finally, a book that I felt was equal to some of Cameron Dokey's contributions to the series. Scarlet Moon kept enough of the original Red Riding Hood story to qualify as a retelling, but created an entirely new back story with fully developed characters. Ruth had personality, a temper, and a mind of her own--qualities I really admire in any fairytale heroine. It's always more fun to read about a spirited woman (rather than a docile one). William seemed dangerous, yet gentlemanly, and pretty sexy for a fictional character (No Mr. Darcy- mind you- but really, who is?). There were a few times that the dialogue got a little plagiaristic and one entire page where I rolled my eyes at the cheesy declarations of love, but it was all forgivable. While the ending wasn't quite what I expected--and a little sudden--there was a bit of a surprise humor to it that I enjoyed. Having read this book and Midnight Pearls I feel that although Viguie's writing is not quite as good as Dokey's, it is MUCH better than Suzanne Weyn's, Nancy Holder's, or Tracy Lynn's.

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Sum it up in one phrase: Definitely feels like the UNTOLD story of Little Red Riding Hood.

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