Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood

25885733Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
First Published: April 12th, 2016
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure


With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . . .


My main problem with this book is that it’s not a fairy tale retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, it is indeed a fairy tale of a sort, but not at all a retelling and barely inspired by Red’s story.

After having closed Liesl Shurtliff’s debut RUMP satisfied and genuinely happy, I was ready to read anything from this author. But this book is nothing like RUMP. Instead of focusing on one specific fairy tale, the author includes elements from the Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Goldilocks and the Three Bears as well as Beauty and the Beast. By ‘‘elements’’, I mostly mean ‘‘characters’’.

Why do that? Why not give the Little Red Riding Hood an incredible twist by playing with the original elements and leaving the other fairy tales alone? I admit that it’s good for authors to try something different—something that makes them stand out—but in this case the execution fell flat.

Again, my main problem is that I did not feel as though I was reading a fairy tale retelling, and only slightly feeling like I was reading a fairy tale period. It’s more like an adventure featuring Red and Goldie who discover other fairy tale characters on their path and interact with them.

It’s a tiny bit… superficial. I enjoy magic in my reads, but I knew from the start Red wouldn’t be satisfied with the dwarf’s response regarding what she had to do to cure her granny. I don’t mind characters who play tricks on other characters, but I prefer when I, the reader, am not aware of the tricks. Otherwise it’s just a matter of waiting for the characters that are being played to discover the shenanigan.

Goldie is a pain in the buttocks. She causes more trouble than she helps. While she sometimes proves herself to be useful, those moments are so rare that I simply wanted her out of the picture. We do discover after some time that she is not as superficial as we first thought, but even that was not enough for me to look at her as though seeing a whole new person.

A quick read if it captures enough of your attention, with entertaining scenes featuring magic and creatures, but I could not connect to the characters and story. I wanted something else.


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2 thoughts on “Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood

  1. Oh man, I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you. When I saw the title I got excited, but I’m glad I read your review because I’m positive I would have gone in with the same expectations.


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