Emily May's Reviews > Red Hood

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
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really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, fairy-tales, arc, 2019

You are the hunter, and this wolf, though he thinks he is the predator, is your prey.

Elana K. Arnold is one of my favourite writers of the twisted and disturbing. I eagerly seek out her new books and always find myself feeling a little shaken at the end. However, I've said before of Damsel that it should have been marketed as an adult book, and I think that is even more true of this one. Arnold's novels get these gorgeous YA fantasy covers, but I think it leads them into the wrong hands.

In Red Hood I think this is even more of an issue. This is a fantastic, gory, messed up fairy tale, but it also doesn't fully work as a high school thriller, in my opinion. Though I will say the honest depiction of menstruation is definitely something teens are missing.

Sixteen-year-old Bisou Martel has pretty much given up on getting her period when it suddenly arrives at the worst possible time-- homecoming dance, when things are getting sexy in the back of her boyfriend's car. In a moment of panic, she gets out of the car and runs away into the woods. There she encounters a vicious wolf, and somehow kills it. The next day it all seems like a bad dream, but when the dead body of one of her classmates is found in the woods, Bisou has to wonder: is she responsible?
There is a tree at your back. It rises behind you like all of history—your history, the history of girls in forests, the history of wolves and fangs and blood.

It is a very loose Red Riding Hood retelling, which I personally prefer. I have no interest in reading the same story over and over again. It's also very chilling and creepy, even outright scary in parts. I love how Arnold uses fairy tales to tackle issues young women face like periods, relationships, toxic masculinity, and the threat of violence, without seeming didactic or preachy. Red Hood is searingly critical of rape culture and "incels", at the same time as celebrating loving, consensual sex and relationships.

The problem is, I think the conclusion - the "message" of the book, if you will - doesn't sit quite right for me. It is clearly supposed to be about sisterhood and female empowerment, but it comes across as an endorsement of (view spoiler). I also feel that the YA label doesn't help. Would this have been as jarring as an adult novel about (view spoiler)? I can't say for sure, but I feel like it maybe wouldn't.

I will still recommend this to fans of the dark, twisted and gory, but I will need to add a caveat that I don't fully support the message so no one thinks I'm a psychopath.

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Reading Progress

February 13, 2019 – Shelved
July 16, 2019 – Started Reading
July 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Ceecee (new)

Ceecee Great review 😊


Emily May Ceecee wrote: "Great review 😊"

Thank you :)


message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda Gavino I’ve loved Elena K Arnold since I read Infandous, but I totally get what you’re saying about the YA labels. The cover art is always gorgeous but oh-so misleading about how very dark each story gets. I’m glad I read your review of Red Hood before I pick it up so that I go into it with the right mindset.


message 4: by Leighellen (new) - added it

Leighellen I promise, noone thinks you're a psychopath! :) Love this review tho. I often do wonder what people think of me when I love a book that's clearly a little twisted!


message 5: by Leeya (new)

Leeya I gotta say, the ending, as you describe it, surprises me. Probably not for me but great review.


message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura We promise we won't think you are a psychopath. :)


Jennifer Hill Totally agree. More adult than YA.


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