Little Red Riding Hood Wrap Up
So, this month, we looked at another of those problem fairy tales, those “Then I Found Five Dollar” tales. And similarly to Rumpelstiltskin, in wrapping up the month and looking at how our different authors chose to handle adapting the tale, we’re going to set aside Cloaked in Red for the time being, and look at the three novels that weren’t written specifically to address the issues of the original tale: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Scarlet Moon by Debbie Vigue, and Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George.
So the first thing I noticed about these three novels is that in exactly none of them is Little Red a child. Scarlet is 19 and Ruth and Petunia are both 16, and this directly ties in with the second thing I noticed, which was that in exactly none of these novels was the wolf an actual wolf. Scarlet came the closest, making Wolf a sort of human-wolf hybrid, and there’s the werewolf bit in Scarlet Moon, but essentially, all of these novels portray the wolf as human. Which leads directly to the last thing I noticed:
In each and every one of these novels, the wolf became a love interest for Little Red.
This point is a little disturbing to me. I mean, I get it, we live in a culture where every story has to have a romance, and Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t, but . . . the wolf? The creature who preys on Little Red in the original story, who wants to kill her? That’s who we’re choosing to turn into a love interest?
And I mean, yes, all three of these novels also have a secondary wolf in there somewhere who fills the bloodthirsty, wanting Little Red to die role, allowing these primary wolves to also play the role of the hunstmen, but . . . still.
Honestly, as much as I loved Scarlet and Princess of the Silver Woods, I am a little disappointed that no one took a different direction with this story. No one made the wolf a real wolf, no one made Little Red a child, everyone turned it into a romance. Which is fine, looking at each novel individually. But all together, seeing the stories that, boiled down to essentials, are so similar . . . I don’t know. To me, making Little Red older and turning the wolf into the love interest is the easy way to retell this story, and I find myself wishing that someone had taken a more challenging route.
So to that end, thank you Vivian Vande Velde.
I also noticed that of the people we read this month, only one chose to deliberately retell Little Red specifically, creating a world around that story. We’re leaving Cloaked in Red aside again, because of the different motivation in writing it, and Scarlet and Princess of the Silver Woods both used LRRH as a sequel structure, fitting the fairy tale into a world already established for another fairy tale, and while they both did it very well, LRRH was not the starting point for either of them.
At the end of the day, the offerings we have on this story say a lot about how well it lends itself to retelling, which is: not very well. The most successful adaptations this month didn’t try to retell the story on its own, but wove the elements of the story in with others, which I feel like you almost have to do with a story this problematic.
So! Rankings for the month:
Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde, Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George, and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer all receive Highly Recommended ratings for vastly different reasons.
Scarlet Moon by Debbie Vigue gets a Not Recommended from me, but with the caveat that it is very much not my cup of tea, but isn’t necessarily badly written.
May’s fairy tale, and the last fairy tale of the year and the project, is Sleeping Beauty. See you tomorrow!