Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce [Book Review]

Sisters Red coverSisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: June 7th 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Fairytale Retellings #1

Goodreads description: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend–but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

Sisters Red was also on my Summer TBR Top Ten. I’d been interested in it for a while because I love retellings and I liked Pearce’s Purity, which I read before I blogged. My mom picked it up for me at a “store” where teachers get free things ( books and school supplies) and I was excited.

Sisters Red is the story of Scarlett and Rosie March. They live in the country and their family hunts werewolves, also called Fenris. They lived with their grandma until “the big bad werewolf” came when Scarlett was eleven and Rosie was nine. Scarlett saved Rosie’s life while gaining some disfiguring scars and losing an eye in the process. Since that event, Scarlett has been obsessed with killing every possible Fenris. The sisters train to kill and kill werewolves and that is about it.

Scarlett’s woodsman best friend, Silas, helps them hunt but he’s been on a trip across the country for a year. Rosie wants to hunt on her own, but Scarlett is too protective. They dress up in red cloaks and pretend to be helpless to bait werewolves who prey on young girls. They find out that werewolf packs are congregating in nearby Atlanta because there’s a Potential (a potential werewolf, of course) in the area. They pack up and move to a crappy apartment in Atlanta to try to find and save the poor soul while killing as many Fenris as possible.

The sisters have a special bond. They feel like one person and they can share thoughts. Scarlett is older and focused on killing werewolves so they can’t kill or maim more people. She feels it is their responsibility because they know about the Fenris while others do not. Rosie also hates Fenris and wants to kill them, but that isn’t all she wants from life. She wants more normality, but she owes her life to Scarlett so she feels obligated to stick to hunting. Their bond is nice, but it’s also frustrating. They love each other a lot but they don’t talk things out very well.

When Silas returns, he and Rosie start seeing each other differently. The romance is a bit creepy, a little sad, and sickly sweet. She’s sixteen and he’s twenty-one. It doesn’t really go into creepy territory in the story, but Rosie also feels pretty young for sixteen. I think it has to do with how much time she spends with über focused Scarlett instead of other girls her own age. It gets a little too sweet for me, but Silas is always nice to her and encourages her to do what she what she is interested in, regardless of Scarlett’s demands. Rosie has hearts in her eyes like she’s never been around a guy before, but to be fair the only guys she has been around lately are werewolves that she’s aiming to kill. Silas and Rosie hide their romantic feelings from Scarlett because Scarlett is against anything that is Not Hunting. Her reasons are dumb, and if she was more worried about her little sister being with an older guy, it would be more understandable. Romance might distract from hunting, but you can still be a hunter if you’re romantically involved. Obviously, other hunters (her family) have had romances before or else she wouldn’t be alive.

Scarlett is selfish but she’s also caring. She loves her sister and she’s extremely protective. She doesn’t want Rosie to hunt alone, but she doesn’t want Rosie to do anything but hunt. She thinks it is their duty, but she also thrives on the hunt and relishes it. She thinks she needs to protect poor, helpless girls but she also despises them and judges them. She has to help them because she knows about werewolves, but she’s jealous of their freedom and their beauty. She and Silas are disturbing with their attitudes about young girls that end up being victims. Nobody is ever “asking” to be attacked and you’re not better than them because you expect bad things to happen. I think I would have liked Scarlett and Silas so much more and the book better if they weren’t so judgmental. Why even bother saving people you don’t seem to think are worthy of your protection? 

The lore with the Fenris/werewolves is different, interesting, and creepy. Not everyone that’s bitten becomes a werewolf, there is a certain aspect about a male (and only males) that enables them to be turned. Everyone else that gets bitten is injured or dies. The werewolves are vile and prey on young girls like twisted sexual predators and serial killers. I’m not sure the twist is even a twist, because it’s glaringly obvious. Figuring it out doesn’t really ruin anything in the story for you, though. 

There are some intense and exciting hunts and fights with werewolves in this book. Those scenes are also violent and can be gory. The fight scenes were fast-paced. I thought the climax of the story was exciting and thrilling.  There is a little bit of a side-eye at the last-minute, but I was willing to let it slide.

2.5 stars

Sisters Red had a lot of potential, but was a bit disappointing. The characters had likable moments but they were also frustrating and at times disturbing. The werewolf parts were exciting and I liked the writing. As a retelling, it isn’t that close to the Little Red Riding Hood story I’m familiar with, but using red cloaks to lure werewolves in was cool even if cloaks aren’t that modern. I’d recommend this book to someone who can handle some violence, victim-blaming and sisterly angst.

Check out Jackson Pearce‘s website and twitter!