Review: Red Hood’s Revenge Puts More New Twists On Old Tales

Geek Culture

Image: DAW Books

“You’re telling me Little Red Riding Hood wants to kill me?”

It takes less than a dozen words to set the hook for Red Hood’s Revenge, the newest book from fantasy author Jim C. Hines. Of course, if there’s one thing to be learned from the guy who’s taken Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and envisioned them as a trio of blade-wielding, magic-using lead-don’t-follow heroines, it’s that there is always more to the story.

Red Hood follows The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid’s Madness in Hines’ reimagined fairy tale world — he spoke with GeekDad about the series’ origins last fall — and centers on Talia, the ninja-inspired princess formerly known as Sleeping Beauty, as she leads a quest to confront the tragedy of her past and save her homeland.

I’m hesitant to go too deeply into specific plot points and character revelations only because there’s so much fun to be had in discovering Hines’ takes on the old tales, which are both darker and deeper and more impactful than the most familiar versions.

Cinderella-inspired Danielle and magically-gifted Snow aren’t relegated to the background — the trio remains a very interdependent team — but this is definitely Talia’s book, and she carries it well. And Roudette, the titular red-hooded assassin, is a more than worthy and well-fleshed-out adversary.

While Red Hood‘s a good adventure book, it also succeeds in addressing things like family conflicts, loyalty, home, faith and prejudice without ever coming close to preachy allegory territory. In line with the previous two books, Red Hood touches on some serious themes and ideas that some parents might not find appropriate for younger pre-teens, but I’ve been encouraging my daughter to read these since just before her 12th birthday.

Hines excels at world-building and layered storytelling as well as keeping things moving: In fact, my only problems with Stepsister and Mermaid, were that at times, the action unfolded almost too quickly to digest the motivations and backstories driving it. While Red Hood also has its share of generations-old evils and plot twists, it’s got Hines’ strongest and most straightforward story so far at its core, and it’s easily my favorite in the series.

The fourth book, The Snow Queen’s Shadow, is set for a summer 2011 release.

[Disclosure: Red Hood’s Revenge is published by DAW Books, which provided GeekDad with a review copy.]

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