September’s theme for JUVEN Press is retellings. In case you missed it, last week’s article went through five Cinderella retellings, BUT today’s article turns to Red Riding Hood retellings in all genres—the weird, the familiar, and the deep cuts. Treat this article as a charcuterie board for your writing inspiration, a survey of what’s out there. Knowing what’s been done before is the first step to writing your own. This article is the second of a four-part series this month, so keep an eye out for Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast in the next two weeks.
The Classic Sequel: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
We can’t have an article about retellings without the queen herself, Marissa Meyer. This YA book is in the same universe as Cinder, the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series, but can be read without the first one. Scarlet, our main character, forgoes the red cape for a red hoodie. Scarlet is on a mission to find her missing grandmother and realizes she’s been in danger her whole life. She meets Wolf, a street fighter who says he can help find her, but can she trust him? As can be expected from a retelling of this tale, the romance between Scarlet and Wolf is enemies-to-lovers.
The One You Might Know: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Rachelle is apprenticed to hold back the dark power of the woods, but when she strays off the forest path to discover a cure to the eternal darkness, she accidentally binds herself to it. To atone, she becomes a warrior for the king and is forced to guard the man she hates the most—Prince Armand. Tropes in this book include enemies to lovers, forbidden love, and the love triangle. It’s gory, it’s creepy, and has been compared to Cruel Beauty.
And the One You Don’t: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
Lon Po Po, or Granny Wolf, comes from Chinese oral tradition. Instead of Little Red visiting her grandmother in the woods, in this story three siblings are visited by their grandmother—the wolf in disguise—when their mother goes out. The wolf is invited inside and when the girls realize their mistake they must use their wits to get rid of the intruder. Lon Po Po won the Caldecott medal in 1990 for America’s best picture book for children. Young’s illustrations are dark, misty and haunting.
The Redemption Arc: The Princess Fugitive by Melanie Cellier
The Princess Fugitive, like Scarlet, is the second book in its series: The Four Kingdoms. Side note: why does no one ever start their series with Red Riding Hood? Why so many sequels? I digress. Princess Ava, the villain of the first book in this YA series, has fled her kingdom with only her personal bodyguard Hans after an attempt on her life. She must redeem herself and find allies in order to save her kingdom from itself. How does this relate to the classic fairy tale? Readers speculate that Ava represents the wolf, trained from birth to be a weapon and now on a journey of redemption.
Another Ninja One?? Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz
There seems to be a trend here. Last article we discovered Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, and the ninja retellings keep on coming! Ninja Red Riding Hood is a children’s picture book and a spin-off of The Three Ninja Pigs. In this installment, Wolf takes up karate lessons to “scare up a good meal.”
The Spicy Crossover One: Red Arrows by Laura Burton and Jessie Cal
And when I say spicy, I mean that this book is in the adult genre, so YA readers be warned. I included this book because in this plot, Robin Hood is Red’s cousin. But don’t worry, they are not the couple of this story. Will Scarlet has vowed to protect Red on her mission to save Marian from The Wolf, but she can never know his “secret,” which is obviously that he’s a wolf. The canon calls him a wolf-shifter, but I’m not sure this is any different from a werewolf to be honest. Readers praise this book (another sequel!) on Goodreads for its likable heroine, forbidden love, and world building.
What is your favorite Red Riding Hood retelling, did I miss any? Considering the popularity of the fairytale, I’m sure I did. More importantly: did you discover your next read? Stay tuned next week for Rapunzel retellings. Thanks for reading, and happy writing!
is a writer based in North Carolina. She attends writing classes of all kinds at UNC Chapel Hill and has a particular fondness for sharp imagery. In her free time, she drafts her own novels.
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