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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maybe damsels under duress, but never damsels in distress. With RED HOOD'S REVENGE Jim C. Hines steps even further away from the lighthearted fractured fairy tale tone he'd brought to THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, this series's inaugural book. RED HOOD'S REVENGE tends to echo more of the grim, dark sensibilities which threaded thru those original fairy tales, long before Walt Disney got a hold of them and turned them into cute singing and dancing bedtime fables. Back in the day, I mean, really back in the day, woodland creatures weren't only fluffy bunnies and birds that frolicked with the girl and helped her clean house. There were also ravenous wolves. Just as there were also princes who were less than noble.
Hines takes the fable of Little Red Riding Hood and injects a sinister, tragic twist. Decades later, Roudette, bitter and scarred and armed with her enchanted red cloak, has fostered a reputation as a fearsome assassin, and she now sets her eyes on Princess Danielle Whiteshore née de Glas of Lorindar... or so we initially assume. Danielle - once upon a time known as Cinderella - isn't your typical princess, and she and her friends, the formidable warrior Talia and the sorceress Snow (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, respectively), bring the fight to the Lady of the Red Hood. Once upon a time, there were princesses who didn't need rescuing.
I am really high on this series and, if anything, this third book RED HOOD'S REVENGE only elevates the mad love. Danielle, Talia, and Snow are so very well-written and fleshed out, and I love the interactions among the three (although the established relationships get thrown out of whack with the introduction of an old friend of Talia's). Hines then inserts a brooding, tragic anti-heroine in the person of Roudette (maybe Talia wasn't holding down the fort in that department). Roudette and Talia are essentially the same side of the coin, the difference being that Talia has gotten a few breaks, whereas the Lady of the Red Hood never had a chance. Roudette was always fated to go down her bleak road.
Danielle takes more of a back seat in this one, the story focusing more on Snow and decidedly more on Talia. RED HOOD'S REVENGE presents a decidedly more Arabian Nights flavor as Hines writes of Sleeping Beauty's eventful return to her arid homeland of Arathea, a kingdom co-habitated by fairies and humans, humans being the subservient race in this equation. In the course of their adventures, the girls fall prey to the eldritch Wild Hunt and are caught up in a sweeping conspiracy to overthrow the Arathean throne. The irony is that Talia would prefer nothing better than for a revolution to come about. Arathea's current ruler desperately craves the death of Sleeping Beauty. Talia, after all, did murder her son, the Prince, even if the circumstances were entirely mitigating. And a living (and awake) Sleeping Beauty, the kingdom's true hereditary monarch and back from exile, is a perennial threat to the crown. In this go-around, the writer offers treachery, twists, revelations, unrequited love, old friends, requited love, handsome princes who sit at home while the women do the work, Danielle's cleverness and statesmanship, Talia's rousing heroics, Snow's costly mirror magic... and a not at all guaranteed happily ever after. RED HOOD'S REVENGE is darker and richer, is set on a larger scale and, well, is it the most satisfying of the three books? It's certainly the best read so far. Even if I'm growing more and more concerned about Snow and that head injury of hers.