“It’s not that we need more wolf hunters,” you say. “It’s that we need men to stop becoming wolves.” – 4.25/5 stars!
Attention! This book contains: broken necks, old sayings, french expressions, menstruation, lapis blue necklaces, farmhouses, sickle moons, Halloween parties, poems, fresh bread, improbable friends and big bad wolves.
I swear I’m going to read EVERY retelling that comes from this author. After reading Damsel – which easily became one of my favorite books of all time – I was very excited when this book was published and I couldn’t wait to finally pick it up. I knew it would also be a retelling with a feminist twist just like Damsel, so I had high expectations!
Red Hood follows a teenage girl named Bisou, who lives with her grandmother in a small house in Seattle. Right after finding out she was menstruating for the first time, she finds herself in the woods in front of a terrifying wolf. It attacks her, but she easily fights it and kills it with knowledge she didn’t even know she had. The next day she finds out a boy from her school was found dead in the woods. Of course, this brings a lot of questions to Bisou, but fortunately her grandmother was waiting for the right time to have a very important talk with her.
For starters, I’m not sure I would consider this a retelling because the story is very different from Little Red Riding Hood. Sure, we have the same main elements – the girl, the grandmother, the wolves, the european references – but other than that, there is not anything else in common with the original story other than inspiration.
The book started out strong. That first chapter was… something. I know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally really liked how raw this book is. I applaud the author for talking about topics like menstruation and sex in a very natural, non-taboo way. I was also surprised to find out this was written as a contemporary story instead of an historical one. I confess I was skeptical about this when I started reading the book, but it turned out better than I thought. The story is told in second person, so it’s told like the reader is the main character. I can’t remember if I ever read a story in this format before, but I thought it was cool and different!
But this story has a bigger purpose. It’s very obvious that the main topics of this book are abuse, double standards and consent – but it’s all said in a metaphoric way. Some men are wolves – not all of them, of course – and they take women as prey. Like I said, I wouldn’t consider this a retelling but I love the way the author uses fairytales and recreates them to encourage important conversations. The book talks about toxic masculinity, rape culture and “incels” (which I never heard about before until I read this book) and it encourages consensual relationships and gender equality. Overall, I would say this is a great story about woman empowerment. We live in a world where women are constantly being labeled, sexualized and shamed for their bodies instead of being accepted for who they are as a whole. It’s about taking our power back and accepting our bodies without feeling bad about them.
It’s not a beat-around-the bush kind of book because it will tell you everything as it is, whether you are comfortable or not! I honestly think it’s a great book that brings to light a lot of issues women have while dealing with “wolves”. It’s feminist, it’s raw and it’s empowering.