If you're looking for a good, engrossing novel with the perfect amounts of terror, whimsy, and adrenaline, Jackson Pearce's SISTERS RED might be just the book for you. The first in her line of loose fairy tale novels, it can be read on its own (I actually read it third), but it does set up the world in which SWEETLY and FATHOMLESS take place. It introduces the diabolical Fenris, her own version of a werewolf, and shows readers that fairy tales are still cool and interesting--especially when the story doesn't go exactly where you'd expect it to.
One of the strongest elements in SISTERS RED is the way that sisters Scarlett and Rosie March interact with one another. Told in alternating POVs, both characters bring their own unique voices to the story. Oftentimes, it's hard to tell who is speaking when there's a POV shift in a novel because many authors can't handle a difference in voice well. Pearce has no trouble building up two unique personalities and finding ways to make them conflict with and embrace one another. After a horrifying incident occurs during their childhood, the sisters learn to support and rely on themselves, taking vengence out on the Fenris and preventing the deaths of many innocent victims. While Scarlett embraces this darkness, wanting the Fenris to pay for all that she has suffered, Rosie is softer, and makes room for other things in her life...even a little romance.
Both girls are kick-ass, strong female heroines, though at times, this also makes for passages a little too violent for my personal tastes (then again, I'm squeamish at the sight of a papercut, so take that with a grain of salt...). I loved seeing their personalities and felt they were both well-developed characters. Granted, because of the way I read, I am seldom surprised by pop twists, and SISTERS RED was no exception. It didn't bother me, though, because the writing was so strong that I had a lot of trouble putting this one down. I also read it directly after FATHOMLESS (despite the fact that, at the time, I was in the middle of Splash into Summer and reading "only" mermaid-related books), then picked up SWEETLY to re-read. While the books can be read out of order, and indeed were in my case, I think it's possible that readers may get more out of the books if they read them in order due to the way Pearce world-builds and adapts the stories without repeating things we should already know.
Pearce is such a talented writer, and finds so many new ways to tell a traditional fairy tale. There are even traces of other tales, which may or may not have been intended. One of my favorite twists was the way the famous red Little Red Riding Hood cloak was actually an intentional lure designed to bring out the Fenris for a hunt. These little touches add so much character, and Pearce has them in all of her books. My only complaint after finishing SISTERS RED? No more new fairy tale novels left in my reading queue!
Want more Jackson Pearce? Check out my review of SWEETLY or my summer teaser for this week's new release, FATHOMLESS. And get an extended sneak peek at SISTERS RED by reading the first 40 pages online right now for FREE!