Sarah Blakley-Cartwright,
based on a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson,
Red Riding Hood
(Little, Brown & Co., 2011)

It puzzled me that the author's name wasn't listed on the book's cover ... or on the back, even. Sarah Blakley-Cartwright's name appears only on the binding and, of course, inside. Instead, filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke's name is given prominence for her introduction.

It's an unusual situation, but I suppose given Blakley-Cartwright's obscurity -- this is her first novel, after all -- and Hardwicke's fame -- she directed Twilight -- the decision makes some sense.

Red Riding Hood, as we learn in Hardwicke's much-ballyhooed intro, wasn't meant to be a book. She was hard at work crafting David Leslie Johnson's dark, gothic screenplay into a movie when she realized her characters just had too much backstory to bring to the big screen. She she handed it off to her pal, Sarah, who had just graduated from college with a degree in creative writing, and asked for a book.

Blakley-Cartwright rose to the challenge.

I haven't seen the film, and frankly the flood of negative reviews and comments would probably have kept me away (as if the Twilight connection alone wasn't enough reason to pass) but I was tempted by the book ... and Blakley-Cartwright succeeded in making the story interesting.

There, I said it. I enjoyed it. The simple fairy-tale of Little Red Riding Hood, known here as Valerie, all grown up and wrapped in a werewolf legend, worked. It's not a novel that will change your life, but the interesting characters and mystery kept me involved. Blakley-Cartwright wrote a good yarn, colorful and tantalizing, and I was wondering who the wolf was to the very end.

And then I got to the end. What's this now?

Ah. A marketing ploy. The book doesn't end. Want to see what happens next? You have to go online and read the final chapter there. And you know what? The final chapter sucked. It was stupid, trying too hard to connect the story to the tropes of the fairy-tale. And, after Blakley-Cartwright's richly developed book, which developed people and their backstory in languorous fashion, these last few pages were rushed and unfulfilling. What a disappointment.

I bet this was Hardwicke's idea.

book review by
Tom Knapp

9 July 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new