by Vivian Vande Velde
When you really think about the classic fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”, it’s really a rather poorly constructed story. As Vande Velde points out in her Author’s Note, there are four elements to a good story: memorable characters, vivid setting, exciting plot, and important themes. In all respects, “Little Red Riding Hood” fails to measure up. The girl doesn’t even have a name - people just address her as a piece of clothing! So disgusted was Vande Velde that she created eight new versions of the fairy tale, each bringing a new perspective to the fairy tale. In one story, a seamstress named Georgette creates a beautiful doll dressed in a red cloak, but when the life-sized girl comes to life, Georgette realizes that perhaps daughters are more trouble than they’re worth. In another, Granny’s got a meddling suitor, a woodcutter named Gladwyn, and a wolf may be just the thing to get rid of him once and for all. Another woodcutter, exceptionally near-sighted but kind-hearted, heads off into the woods one day and bumbles from one familiar fairy tale to the next as he tries to do his job.
This is a playful collection that never takes itself too seriously. From the first few sentences of the Author’s Note, you know that Vande Velde is writing tongue-in-cheek, and her humor and affection for the traditional tale shines on each page. Considering it’s essentially the same story eight different times (nine if you could the recap in the Author’s Note) there’s a lot of variety in the stories themselves. Sometimes, Red is the star. In other stories, the views shifts to the wolf or the mother, and their interpretations of events are quite amusing. Each story has a different focus, new characters, and a fresh setting, so even though you’re reading the same story over and over, it doesn’t get repetitive or boring.
Apparently, this isn’t Vande Velde’s first exercise in creatively reinterpreting fairy tales. I’m looking forward to picking up The Rumpelstiltskin Problem soon because this collection was just a lot of fun, and I'd love to see what she'll do with the bizarre tale of the miller's daughter who must spin straw into gold.
4 out of 5 stars
To read more about Cloaked in Red, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Illusionology (Ologies #11) by Albert D. Schafer
2011: Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror Vol. 2 by Junji Ito
2010: Writer's Block: Ready, Steady, Read
2009: Going on hiatus...
2008: Contest: Patrick Rothfuss and Heifer International