Mandy Reviews: Jackson Pearce – "Sisters Red"

Sisters Red is a modern take on the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. We all know the Grimm Brothers story… Little Red sets out into the woods to visit Granny, only to find her eaten up by the Big Bad Wolf. The nasty wolf with his gleaming teeth is hiding out in Granny’s clothes in wait for Little Red. In comes the heroic Woodsman, who kills the wolf and saves the damsel in distress.

But in Jackson’s Pearce’s version, Little Red is ‘split’ in two – two sisters, Scarlett and Rosie March, who are so close they believe they share the same heart, split apart. When the wolf (or Fenris, in this case) comes knocking at Grandma’s door, the woodsman doesn’t arrive in time, and poor Grandma is ruthlessly murdered. It’s up to the girls to defend themselves, and despite losing an eye and being left with horrific scars, Scarlett does exactly that. And so begins their life of hunting the Fenris – or werewolf.

I was a little sceptical when I first began reading Sisters Red – I’m not a huge fan of present-tense narratives. And to make things even trickier, Pearce (a female Jackson, BTW) alternates each chapter with first-person point of view from both Scarlett, the older sister, and Rosie, the younger, unscarred sister. I shouldn’t have been worried. It works *so* well.  This way, we get to know and love the girls for their differences immediately: Scarlett with her dreadful injuries and eye-patch is obsessed with the hunt. She’s kick-arse bad, and nothing will stand in her way when it comes to protecting Rosie and ridding the world of Fenris. Scarlett wields a deadly hatchet and nothing matters other than protecting other young women from a grisly death at the hands (jaws) of the Fenris. Yep, Scarlett did remind me a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but without the super-strength or speedy healing power. Scarlett is just plain tough. Rosie, on the other hand, is pretty, deadly with a thrown knife, and adores her older sister. During the hunt, Rosie is usually the ‘bait’ to tempt a Fenris in human form away from crowds to the waiting Scarlett and his doom. Rosie feels compelled to follow Scarlett into the family bizz; an obligation of sorts with all her sister lost in saving the young Rosie’s life. But secretly, Rosie dreams of something more – a life alongside hunting, a life that possibly includes the delicious young woodsman and long-time family friend – Silas. Ahh, Silas. Yum. There’s not much more to say, really – other than the fact he’s not a sap, he’s not perfect, and man, can this guy slice up a Fenris with an axe like no other woodsman before him.

The trio head from their small-town home to a present-day Atlanta, where Fenris attacks are on the rise. What they find there is startling, dangerous, and will question everything they know about the werewolves – and each other. The werewolves in Sisters Red really are bad guys, no cuddly dogs here; they’re soulless monsters with no hope of saving, which is a nice change from other paranormal fiction. They congregate in packs, fight against one another and have only one aim for all eternity… devouring young girls.

Sisters Red is a powerful novel, and has courted some controversy since publication. I’d recommend for the 16 and up age group, mainly due to a (minor) language warning and some themes are a little more adult.

This is a very clever twist on the old fairytale, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Jackson Pearce’s next novel, Sweetly (due June of this year), which will take on Hansel and Gretel. I’m sure Pearce will make the story her own, just as she has with Sisters Red.

Sisters Red – Jackson Pearce

Published by Little, Brown and Company a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

344 Pages, paperback.

IBSN-13: 978 1 444 90147 4

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