Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sisters Red review

Sisters Red
by Jackson Pearce
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
June 2010

Teen sisters Scarlett and Rosie March are incredibly close, because they share a secret: they are both werewolf hunters. Evil Fenris live to seduce and kill young women and Scarlett and Rosie are a few of the only people in the world aware of and fighting this menace. The comparison to Buffy: the Vampire Slayer is pretty obvious: young girls who secretly fight monsters in hand-to-hand combat, even though though the world probably never appreciates it.

First line: Strangers never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged toward them.

I liked that the story begins with a prologue, giving readers a sense of history between the sisters, and explaining right away why Rosie feels so indebted to her sister. Scarlett sustained scars to her face, disfiguring her eye while she was protecting Rosie from a Fenris attack when they were children. Aside from the fact that the Little Red Riding Hood character is essentially split in two, this story borrows heavily from the original fairy tale. The woodsman, the grandmother, the red capes, it's all there. The girls live in rural Georgia, but after hearing about a string of suspicious sounding murders, they relocate to Atlanta. I liked the way the wolf packs were organized, each with a distinctive tattoo, it was a great detail.

I had trouble picturing Scarlett as being truly ugly. I wondered if it was the kind of thing that she was really self-concious about, but other people noticed much less than she thought. Despite her missing eye and scars, she's able to entice the Fenris into chasing her, simply by wearing a red cloak with a hood that hangs over one eye. Granted, it's nighttime, and maybe the Fenris aren't looking too closely. But, still, it's hard to believe that Scarlett is as hideous looking as she thinks she is. There are obvious comparisons to Hester Shaw from Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series, as she's scarred, bitter, intense, good at heart, but hard to be around.

I liked that in contrast to so many of the vampire/werewolf paranormal romances being published these days, this story clearly sets up humans as the good guys, werewolves as the villains. And I liked the twist on the love triangle. Both of the girls have an interest in Silas, the woodsman and close family friend. Rosie's interest is more overt (at least, to him,) and Scarlett has a kind of unrequited thing going on, because she doesn't feel worthy. As the chapters alternated, I found myself really torn - I was half-way rooting for both of the sisters! I was ready to be surprised at the ending, but instead, Silas makes a fairly predictable choice on who he'll end up with.

The part that bothered me most was how the sisters referred to the Fenris victims as "dragonflies" - they see them as flitty, pretty and not-too-witty. I was annoyed by the idea that just because they were young, pretty and dressed to go clubbing, the sisters seemed to think it was all their own fault. Fail.

The other part that I quibbled with was what makes a "potential" werewolf. It's a purely magical process, kind of a seventh son of a seventh son kind of thing, and I was hoping for a more scientific reason, like a virus or something.

I love, love, love books with alternating chapters, and really enjoyed that aspect of this story. I'll recommend this to fantasy YA readers, especially those who enjoy Alex Flinn's fairy tale retellings. Although, with this fantastic cover, this book pretty much sells itself!

I borrowed this book from the library.


  1. This has been on my maybe to read list for ages; thanks for the push to actually read it!

  2. Me too! I took my sweet time getting around to this one, but I'm glad that I did.



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