Ryder — little, red haired, and fiery tempered — is on his way to grandmother’s house. His father is sick and only grandmother knows the cure. But granny needs something from Ryder, first. She needs a werewolf, and not just any werewolf. No, she needs the prince of werewolves, and Ryder, if he wants his father to live, needs to bring him to her.
Armed with wits and magic, Ryder goes hunting in the deep, dark woods and finds (surprisingly easily) a big bad wolf. A tall, dark, handsome, and half-naked wolf … but there’s no time to ogle. Ryder’s on a mission. Unfortunately, granny isn’t a sweet old woman, doting on her grandson. She’s a witch, and a powerful one, and she wants what Ryder has: his magic.
In order to save his father and his kingdom from a curse so powerful no sorcerer can stop it, Ryder will have to find a way to make peace with the werewolf kingdom, reunite with his estranged grandfather, and find the source of the curse and destroy it. All without losing his heart to the big, bad wolf.
This is the first installment in the Fairy Tales Retold series and is, obviously, the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Only Red, in this book, is a sorcerer possessed of immense power, and instead of a red cloak or a basket of cookies, it’s red hair and a bit of sass. He’s plucky, genial, gentle, and hopeful. Even knowing his grandmother is … well, estranged is a polite word for it as she lives deep in the woods and avoids having to deal with people (and is rumored to kill anyone who bothers her), he still has hopes that she’ll help him save the kingdom.
Ryder’s kingdom is one of sorcerers, people who live into their late hundreds and see no need to have children until a few centuries have passed. His father is around 500 years old, while Ryder is a babe at 25. He’s also short. Very, very short, barely 4’11 though you’d never know it from the way he takes charge of situations and bosses people around. So, there are sorcerers and humans (with only sorcerers affected by the plague) and werewolves.
In this world werewolves are a created race, called into being by a sorcerer with a grudge. As such, the two races, sorcerers and werewolves, have never gotten along. Werewolves have tails even in their two-legged form, and when they shift to wolves, they’re giant and monstrous beings. But behind that they’re still people, and Bane, their prince, isn’t some beast with a temper. He’s prone to jump first and think second, and more physical than philosophical, but he still has feelings — especially lust, which he feels instantly for Ryder. But whether that lust can evolve into something more is a question even he doesn’t have an answer to.
There is a quite a huge age gap in this book as Bane is as old as Ryder’s father, and a notable size difference as Ryder isn’t even 5 feet while Bane is more than six. Even so, the two seem to be of a similar emotional level. There are a few issues with the book, including inconstant perspective shifts in a few scenes that made it hard to tell who was doing the talking or feeling, as well as a few missing words and awkward comma placements, some misused words (peck instead of pec, fare instead of fair), pluralization issues (limb’s trembling instead of limbs trembling). And a lot of telling.
The writing isn’t bad, but I didn’t connect with it the way I would have liked to. Ryder’s flippant, indifferent approach to life works well with his age, but it also made it hard for me to connect with him. And the point of view switches came fast and furious, and not every character stood out. To be honest, most of them blended into one another, which was a shame because the story itself has potential, but the author’s style just didn’t work for me.