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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Review: Scarlette by Davonna Juroe

Author: Davonna Juroe
Publication Date: October 12, 2012
Publisher: BumbleB Media Inc.

What if Little Red Riding Hood was real?

Ninety years before the Brothers Grimm penned their version of "Little Red Riding Hood," an historic, gruesome series of events shocked all of Europe. Starting in 1764, an unidentified wolf-like animal ferociously mauled dozens of peasants in the Gévaudan region of France.

Whispered rumors of unnatural creatures blended with age-old superstition to cause mass hysteria. A werewolf was blamed for the carnage. Alarmed, King Louis XV sent his best huntsmen to rid the province of the beastly scourge, but this legendary massacre had only just begun.

Scarlette, a 19-year-old seamstress who is laboring to make ends meet, lives under this dark threat. Although fearful of the nightmarish monster lurking in the surrounding forest, she remains skeptical of the supernatural gossip.

Until her grandmother is attacked.

Scarlette learns that her grandmother has been infected by the animal’s bite. Desperate to save her, Scarlette begins to uncover the dark secrets of her village and finds there are those who wish to keep their pasts hidden. As time grows short, Scarlette is befriended by a local nobleman and a woodcutter who both share an eerie history with the wolf.

Scarlette must unravel the men’s connection and solve a long-forgotten crime. But as she pieces together the clues, Scarlette finds herself torn between the two men. Both of them desire more than friendship and together hold the key to the cure.

Based on both the traditional Grimm fairy-tale and older known French versions of "Little Red Riding Hood," this dark Young Adult novel is set against the 18th century Beast of Gévaudan attacks and blends fairy-tale with Gothic romance in a modern, accessible prose style. Unique to the genre, the novel revives the fable of the girl-in-the-red-cloak with a new historical angle that blurs the line between folklore and reality.

     I figured it was time to choose another book from my ever-growing vast collection of Kindle ebooks (um... freebies really). What more than another dose of a fairy tale retelling? (The words "Fairy tale retelling" got me. *YES!*)
     Not just any dose really. Scarlette is essentially a combination of the "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale and paranormalcy (no, not the book) added in with history. It's very well written for Juroe's debut novel.
     In Scarlette, we follow a peasant girl named Scarlette living in late eighteenth century France in the Gevaudan province who looks for the help of a woodcutter and a member of nobility to help save her grandmother from a wolf bite.
     You might be wondering where the wolf's at. I'm not saying anything about that (welcome to the spoil-free zone ;)).
     I won't say that I was terrified, because I definitely wasn't, but there were times where I practically breathed a sigh of relief that I was reading the book in the daytime (spared from nightmares! *cheer*). To be honest, I probably opened up Scarlette every time awkwardness commenced in a certain required reads (we all know how boring those can get) and was eager to finish up required reading just so I could open up Scarlette and read a book that is a thousand (possibly a million?) times more interesting and page turning than 1984.
     The romance between the baron and Scarlette was probably a little too fast, though in the case of historical viewpoint, it probably wasn't too fast. In the modernly way, it was thankfully not written in a very awkward way (it was a little awkward...) in which I may have choked on water (or food...) with my eyes bugging out and frantically turning the pages to skip awkward parts while silently screaming my head off ("Oh, gods. Get. Me. Out. Of. Here. Now." *flip, flip*). It happens...
     Scarlette is also written in a complex way that keeps the reader guessing. I had no way of knowing about the main character's mother or Jeanne's mother until it was revealed. In fact, I had no clue about the baron either, even though I had my suspicions. I basically just brushed it off.
     I'm definitely not Sherlock material. *disappointed look* So much for wanting to be a detective one day... (kidding).
     The very end seemed more of "oh, hey, there might be a sequel!" and a huge gap between the end and the epilogue. Thankfully, it had an ending that wrapped up well with a bow on top. The short story from Francois's point of view filled in the gap. ^_^
     In two words though? Paranormally awesome. I know I made up paranormally. Would supernaturally work better? :p

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Owls

~Happy Reading!


Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.