Red Hood’s Revenge is the third book in Jim Hines’ series that reimagines the characters of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty (going back to their far darker roots than the usual Disney versions) and turns them into a formidable team. As with the first two books, Hines in Red Hood’s Revenge doesn’t simply retell the well-known stories. He reshapes the original story, then jumps ahead in time and uses the familiar tale as a back-story with its many ripples emanating forward in time, some creating plot and some creating character.
For instance, if you have any doubts about whether this is your grandmother’s fairy tale, here’s an early line from Snow (Snow White) to Talia (Sleeping Beauty): “Wake me when it’s time to kill Red Riding Hood.” Of course, this only comes after Danielle (Cinderella) has asked out loud, “You’re telling me Red Riding Hood wants to kill me?”
That is in fact the jumping off point for the plot, what seems like a failed assassination attempt on Danielle by Roudette (Red Riding Hood), a notorious killer for hire. From there, though, the focus moves to Talia as the setting shifts from Lorindar, Danielle’s homeland where all three live, to Arathea, Talia’s homeland which she left long ago after finally awakening from the fairy curse that made her famous (and led to the deaths of all her family, her exile from home, and a queen on the throne who wants her dead).
The action is more fast-paced than in book two, The Mermaid’s Madness, and makes for a very quick, enjoyable read. Danielle takes a bit of a back seat in this one, as does Snow to a lesser extent, while the plot really focuses on Talia and her return home and on Red Riding Hood: what her plans are and how she ended up as she is. Danielle and Snow remain strong characters, but don’t grow as much as we’ve seen in the first two books: Danielle has pretty much gotten the how-to-be-a-queen/leader role down and Snow continues to work her magic, though a running (perhaps too much so) theme in the book is how much that magic costs her. While Talia doesn’t grow so much in this one, we do so multiple sides of her and get more of her very grim back-story. I would have liked to have seen a bit more done with her parallel to Red Riding Hood, as well as with Red Riding Hood’s cape (that will make more sense once you’ve read the book), but those are minor quibbles.
As with the first two books, the novel completely resolves (perhaps a bit too quickly/neatly at the very end) the story’s major points while leaving room for future books. This continues to be simply an enjoyable, well conceived and executed series and Hines certainly hasn’t tapped it out yet. Recommended.