My Rating ~ Three and a half stars
RELEASED: 2 June 2019
It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.
There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.
Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…
When reports of an outbreak of a deadly disease start to surface, Red carefully starts to pack her bags. She is sure her family will need to leave their home at some stage and she is not going to get caught out like everyone else in the post apocalyptic movies. She’s seen enough to know what not to do. When the time comes, as she makes the long trek towards her grandma’s house, she discovers there’s more to the disease than has been reported, and that the infection might not be the most dangerous thing out there.
When Christina Henry released Alice and Red Queen I loved them. They were super dark and kind of put me in mind of the horror books I used to read, with a fairytale twist. When Lost Boy was published, it wasn’t quite as dark as the first two, but it was my absolute favourite. The Mermaid seemed a deviation from all of the previous books and left me a bit disappointed. The Girl in Red is more of a return to the first books. Not quite as gory and horrifying as Alice, but definite horror vibes. The thing is, some of my favourite horror books (say, anything written by Richard Laymon) are admittedly a little cheesy. They feel a bit like a guilty pleasure to me and I enjoy them while knowing the story has holes, is unrealistic and maybe even a little eye-rolly at times. I sort of felt the same way about The Girl in Red.
Told in alternating time lines “before” and “after”, the story events are revealed slowly. The pacing wasn’t slow, but the main reveal still hadn’t happened with only 20 pages left, so the ending felt a little rushed. The suspense in the story held out and was definitely improved by the different timeline chapters. I was always wanting to hurry along to the next one to find out how the events hinted at in the previous chapter had actually panned out.
Red has a prosthetic leg, and that was brought up over and over again. She didn’t want anyone to put limits on her because of it, which is understandable, but it was constantly mentioned. To remind us that she wasn’t just a girl alone, trekking through the woods, trying to survive and attacking armed people before they attacked her, all on her wits and one self defence class she took….she was doing it with one leg. It was just a bit unrealistic, but, like I said, sometimes it’s fun to just let that wash over you and enjoy the imperfect story for what it is. Especially as…..it’s a fairytale retelling of Red Riding Hood, and fairytales aren’t exactly known for their believability, right? As a retelling, I thought its was quite clever. I thought a certain path the storyline ended up going down was a bit unnecessary, but it was still a fun, post apocalyptic read!
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