You know those books that you don’t expect much from, but you think, “Oh, this will be a fun, quick read” and then you’re totally sucked in and blown away? This was one of those books. Sisters Red was published a few months ago and I can’t believe I haven’t heard more buzz about it, because I loved it! What I thought was going to be just another werewolf story turned out to be a surprisingly layered and touching story about two sisters and their love for each other. Pearce has a unique take on werewolves, which are called Fenris in her book, and the monsters lust after young, frivolous women. It’s not just a new spin on werewolves, but also a play on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and THAT is my absolute favorite thing on this book. Because while Scarlett and Rosie March must rely on their curvy bodies and act like giggly, weak, helpless girls in order to lure the Fenris, they’re actually totally badass Hunters who don’t need to be rescued by anybody. It’s a great twist on the old trope of the young woman being preyed on by a man/monster who disguises himself as someone friendly. In this book, the March sisters disguise themselves as easy prey, and then turn on the Fenris, who are the real prey.
The March sisters were raised by their grandmother, until she was killed by a Fenris when older sister Scarlett was only eleven. But Scarlett managed to defend herself and her sister and kill the monster, and ever since then they’ve been Hunters. Scarlett is obsessed with hunting and protecting Rosie, and it consumes her entire being. She feels right when hunting, and she feels like it’s all she can ever do because it’s her duty to protect innocent women and her scars make her an outcast among “normal” people. I have to say, it’s nice to see a heroine in YA lit who’s strong and capable and kicks ass but doesn’t also look like a supermodel. It’s also nice to see actual consequences to violence, where too often the hero/heroine will just walk off what should be a major injury. Scarlett is missing her right eye and has deep scars all over her body from hunting, but you still get the feeling that she’s beautiful and captivating, just in a non-traditional way. She really wears her scars as badges of honor, and it’s so rare to see that in heroines.
Rosie is just as capable a Hunter as her sister, but she’s less sure of herself. Scarlett has trained her well but still won’t let Rosie hunt by herself, because she’s terrified of losing her or not being there to help her. Unlike Scarlett, Rosie doesn’t live and breathe hunting. Rosie likes to garden and cook, and she wishes she could have more of a normal life. She also has a big crush on Scarlett’s best friend and hunting partner, Silas. I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to like Rosie very much because she’s obviously the more emotional, traditionally feminine counterpart to Scarlett’s hard, soldier-like mentality. But Rosie is so strong and compelling – despite being the more “girly” one, she’s eager to prove herself to Scarlett and she’s a damn good hunter. She’s just as strong physically as Scarlett is, but she feels so much guilt over her feelings for Silas and her desire to have a life outside of hunting. It’s really such an interesting dynamic between the sisters and how they rely on each other in different ways.
I should talk about Silas, too. Silas comes from a family of Woodsmen, and he hunts with an ax. He’s Scarlett’s hunting partner, but he’s not any better than her; they are true equals. But Silas, like Rosie, wants a life outside of hunting and encourages Rosie to seek out other interests and activities. And I won’t say why, but in the end, Silas is really the one who needs to be saved. It’s a really refreshing gender dynamic.
Sisters Red is available in bookstores now, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes urban fantasy, modern twists on fairy tales, or books with awesome female protagonists.