I love Christina Henry’s fairytale re-tellings because they are really dark and interesting. I read The Mermaid last year, and was a little disappointed after the awesomeness that was Lost Boy and the two Alice books. The Girl in Red is, as you might have guessed, the Red Riding Hood retelling we didn’t know we were waiting for.
My summary of The Girl in Red: It’s a post-Crisis world where those who didn’t die from the Cough are being rounded up into quarantine camps. Red is determined to survive, and that means not going to the camps. No, she is walking across America, off road, to get to her Grandmother’s house. Armed with her survival skills, an axe and a dont-****-with-me attitude, Red realises that there is more to the Crisis than just the Cough, and that things might not be what they seem. But in and among dodging government patrols, there are bigger dangers awaiting Red. Some of them are men, some of them are… something else. And Red won’t let them gobble her up, just because she is a woman alone in the woods.
This book jumps from After to Before and back again, introducing Red’s family and the events leading up to her solo trip to Grandmother’s. It builds suspense though. At one point I was so damn tempted to break the rule and look ahead to find out what happened to Adam?! But I suffered, wondering what had gone wrong between the before chapters and Red’s current situation.
Red has a prosthetic leg, and a lot of people underestimate her for her gender, her race, and this fact. She is understandably very suspicious of other survivors, and she doesn’t trust anyone at all. She is super prepared, but often tells herself off for being too cautious because it won’t get her anywhere. I liked her. At no point does she want to become a killer, and it upsets her greatly. She just wants to get to her isolated grandmother’s house for a chance of actually surviving.
What is kinda the most scary thing about this story is, for a fair chunk of it, it seems entirely plausible. The way the survivors react: violently and falling back on historical prejudices feels scarily realistic in this current world. The worry of being a woman alone in the woods also hit a bullseye. The more creepy Thing In The Woods storyline felt like a little less scary because it was more sci-fi after that. I think the scarier horrors are the ones that you can see happening in your life. In this case, the Girl in Red was unsettling.
If horror-fairytales are up your alley, this is a good one. It’s much better than The Mermaid (if you read that one). I also found out she has two more books out in 2020 so looking forward to reading more of Christina Henry’s imagination!