By Cynthia Bujnicki
It is not safe in the woods. Especially not since the Crisis came and decimated nearly the population. The government want’s people in quarantine camps but Red has other plans. She has a grandmother waiting for her and an ax on her side. She thinks people, the worst of the worsts, the survivors who will do about anything to survive, are all she has to worry about, but Red is about to discover that there are wolves in every shadow and buried deep inside the chests of any unsuspecting person.
The Girl is Red, is as one would expect a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood from acclaimed author Christina Henry. Much like with her previous retellings, this novel is as masterful in the way it reinvents the classics in modern, fantastical and unexpected ways. Henry has proven time and time again just how talented she is in the way she utilizes elements from the original tale to craft her own unique story. The elements that Henry uses, both big and small, add up in a way to bring to life this new fresh way for her to tell a story. It is not an exact retelling, but the nods to the original are subtle enough and loud enough to connect it back to the original while maintaining its own identity. Henry also uses those elements in a very modern fashion, different than with her previous retellings this one has a more modern feel to it as it steps away from the fantastical just a little to take the story towards a postapocalyptic direction.
The modern feel to the story allows the pacing and narrative to build up the tension of the story in a remarkable way. The story goes back and forth from the past to the present, and yet this does not slow down the pace of the novel, it only adds to the tension because of how Henry structures the story. She uses the past to influence the present, but Henry builds to it, she builds up that tension with a compelling narrative dripped with emotion in the tone.
The way the reader can get inside the head of Red works to make the story more interesting. It is more than just some postapocalyptic story or retelling, it has the emotional depth to it and shows readers where Red has come from, what she has gone through, how her personality and strength balance off one another to build her up. She is tough but she is also grounded and thoughtful in the way she reacts to the world around her, and that is key in this novel and what makes her stand out and essential in making her relatable to the reader.
The Girl in Red is another fantastic novel by Christina Henry. It is inventive in how it tells the story and creates so much tension making it a gripping novel that gives nothing away until the very end, keeping the reader glued to Red’s journey through the woods to grandmothers’ house. (★★★★★)