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The Red Riding Hoods*

Much Ado about the Red Riding Hoods

Katana Kempe is the daughter of a prominent family who hunts and kills wolves and werewolves. We first meet her as a young girl who wants nothing more than to become a hunter like her six brothers. Her father frowns upon this because he believes the duty of the females of the family is to further the family bloodline. Since hunting is so dangerous, he doesn’t want to risk losing a female in such a way. (Although, I have to say, it seems like her brothers, as there is so many of them, would be able to fulfill the task of creating the next generation!) After some difficult years, she eventually gets her way.

The world-building is complex and interesting. The whole background for the Red Riding Hoods is imaginative. There is a fair amount of intrigue in the book as well as some surprises. More is going on than merely hunting wolf creatures.

From the earliest times in the book, I didn’t like Katana. She is rude and physically violent, even with her father. She doesn’t always think before she acts and can be quite cruel. When I first looked at the cover, I assumed it was going to be a story that took place in a timeless fantasy realm. But this is not the case. Instead, the Kempes live in the modern world–with Hello Kitty and cellphones–but they also exist within a secret society that has rules that are more akin to 200 years ago. So it seems an odd mishmash of contemporary world and fantasy world. In this context, I found the language jarring. With so many fantasy and paranormal elements, the use of modern words and phrases just doesn’t feel right, even though this supposedly takes place in modern times.

Parts of the book are written through the eyes of an omniscient narrator, which I don’t personally find to be a good technique for contemporary writing. It lends itself to telling rather than showing and can be distancing, as well, to the reader.

Because I could never entirely sympathize with Katana or reconcile this contemporary yet fantasy-world, I didn’t find this an enjoyable or satisfying read.