Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Pearce, Jackson. Sisters Red. Little, Brown and Company, 2010.

Big sister Scarlett saved her little sister Rosie from a Fenris, or werewolf, when she was only 11 years old, but she lost an eye and gained many ugly scars in the attack. Seven years later, the sisters live to hunt Fenris, luring them with their lurid red capes and long hair to secluded areas, then fighting them to the death with well-honed knives and skill. Fenris, always men, prefer to devour young girls and women, the fluffier and more helpless the better, and the sisters want to save as many girls as they can from that fate.

Except Rosie is not quite as dedicated to the hunt as is Scarlett, especially when their good-looking neighbor and fellow Fenris-hunter Silas comes back from a long trip to California. Silas and Rosie begin to see each other as more than old friends, just when a huge influx of Fenris to their part of Georgia signals that the werewolf packs are looking for a Potential in the area - a boy or man who is ripe to be "turned." The three Fenris-hunters don't know who this person is or what makes a man a Potential - but Scarlett is determined to prevent this Turning from happening, and of course to kill as many Fenris as possible in the process. A move to Atlanta puts them right into the thick of things, and Scarlett goes into a frenzy of hunting while Rosie wonders if there could possibly be more to life than killing Fenris - like maybe falling in love.

Told from both sisters' points of view in alternating paragraphs, this is an intense, violent, and often gruesome story. The obvious parallels to the traditional Little Red Riding Hood tale add a bit of poignancy to the tale but also result in a too-literal re-interpretation of certain elements of the story that sometimes raises questions when the reader should be fully immersed in the unfolding events.

The red capes are excellent, and I'll buy the red names of the sisters, the fact that they lived with their Grandma, and the fact that Silas comes from a family of woodsmen. The all-male Fenris and their single-minded desire for succulent young girls and women strikes me as an oversimplified interpretation of the meaning of the wolf in the traditional tale, but I'll roll with it, especially since it's so supremely satisfying (if utterly unbelievable) to watch Scarlett and Rosie kicking major werewolf butt over and over.

I did wonder, however, why there are so many Fenris swarming all over Georgia. Surely, with all those attacks on young women that leave them pretty much just shreds of left-over flesh, someone would notice. And why are the Fenris so uniformly gorgeous in their human form? I won't reveal what makes a Potential, but it's rare enough that the Fenris can't be choosy about the looks of the guys who join their ranks. And why does Scarlett assume that there are only three Fenris hunters in the whole world? You'd think she'd go on the Internet and see if they could recruit more.

Okay, I get that it's a parable of sorts, but the thing is, the setting and characters are modern and realistic enough that these pesky questions do arise, and for me at least, they intrude into the tension of the story. But still, the tension does stay pretty high, the writing is smooth, and the emotional interplay between Rosie, Scarlett, and Silas is intriguing without detracting from the action. This tale is a must for fans of urban fantasy of the gritty, decidedly non-Faerie variety. And the jacket art is fabulous.

Recommended for ages 14 and up.


  1. Hey Eva,

    I'm halfway through this and I'm really enjoying it. I saw it in a library display and thought to myself.... didn't Eva recommend this on her blog? Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Oh good, glad you're enjoying it!