“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.
You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.
And the wolf is angry.
Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.
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.