The story of Scarlett and Rosie March, two highly-skilled sisters who have been hunting Fenris (werewolves) – who prey on teen girls – since Scarlett lost her eye years ago while defending Rosie in an attack. Scarlett lives to destroy the Fenris, and she and Rosie lure them in with red cloaks (a colour the wolves can’t resist), though Rosie hunts more out of debt to her sister than drive.
But things seem to be changing. The wolves are getting stronger and harder to fight, and there has been a rash of news reports about countless teenage girls being brutally murdered in the city. Scarlett and Rosie soon discover the truth: wolves are banding together in search of a Potential Fenris – a man tainted by the pack but not yet fully changed. Desperate to find the Potential to use him as bait for a massive werewolf extermination, the sisters move to the city with Silas, a young woodsman and long time family friend who is deadly with an axe. Meanwhile, Rosie finds herself drawn to Silas and the bond they share not only drives the sisters apart, but could destroy all they’ve worked for. (from Amazon.co.uk)
Sisters Red had been on my radar for quite a while. There was a lot of buzz surrounding it and the first reviews were extremely positive. So when my copy arrived, with the most gorgeous shiny hardback cover, I was really excited. I’d seen lots of people say that once they started this book they just couldn’t put it down and read it in one go, so I settled myself down ready to be completely blown away. Only it didn’t happen like that for me.
The book starts very well. It begins with the sisters, Rosie and Scarlett when they’re just nine and eleven years old. Innocently playing at their Grandmother house in the woods, a strange man comes calling. He turns out to be a werewolf, or fenris, and will kill their beloved Oma March and horrifically maim Scarlett. It’s clear we are being given a retelling of the classic fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood and I loved it! I’m a sucker for folklore and myth and in just the first few pages, Sister’s Red is already seeped in it. The fenris is what a real monster should be. Feral, wild, merciless and completely evil. It was terrifying! The book seemed so promising and definitely deserving of its hype.
Unfortunately, within a couple of chapters my excitement had waned. It’s now seven years later and the March Sisters are accomplished hunters, fighting against the fenris who prowl the earth unbeknown to most of humankind, along with their life long friend Silas. The problem I had is that the pace seems to slow right down here, despite all the action. With one fight scene after another it became slightly repetitive and I struggled to concentrate. Now, I’m not sure if I was tired or suffering that awful ailment, over anticipation, but I just couldn’t get into the book. In the end I put it down at around 100 pages in, and read something else, picking it up again a few days later. And am I glad I did?! After the disappointing start I finally got what I wanted and was hooked.
Sisters Red is told in a duel narrative from Scarlett and Rosie in alternating chapters and this works very, very well, giving us an insight into two very different girls. Scarlett was the most difficult sister to relate too. She’s so focussed on hunting, way beyond the point of obsession. She comes across hard, fierce, manipulative towards her sister and blinkered, but as the book moves on you start to see why she is so driven and surprisingly, how vulnerable and insecure she is deep down. I started to feel really sorry for her and certainly respected her loyalty and determination. Rosie on the other hand wants more than just being a huntress but feels she owes Scarlett her life and is terrified of upsetting her. I really enjoyed reading from her point of view, especially as new possibilities were opened up to her away from her sister. By the end I really felt I knew both characters and liked them both. These sisters rock!
This isn’t the most unpredictable book I’ve ever read; I saw the twist coming a mile off. However I think Jackson Pearce’s writing is so beautiful that it didn’t really matter, and the climax was still breathtakingly exciting. There’s plenty of action but this book isn’t just about slaying werewolves. The characters and their inner turmoil’s drive the story, which is really a coming of age tale, a story about loyalty, sisters, first love and discovering who you are and your place in the world. No YA book would be complete without a love story, and this one is particularly touching, feeling very natural and unforced.
I’m glad I didn’t give up on Sisters Red and apart from the slow pages at the beginning of the book I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The ending left me with both a big smile on my face, a tear in my eye and a sadness that I was leaving the March Sisters. I’d recommend Sisters Red if you enjoy this genre, the mix of action and character development mean it has a wide appeal (and I’d advise you stick with it if you feel the same way as I did at the beginning, it’s worth it!). Jackson Pearce has given an edge to Sisters Red with feisty, strong heroines and wicked, evil monsters, which is refreshing to read and a fascinating spin on the old fairytale.