If you asked me to imagine a series of books someone would write just for me, retold fairy tales featuring kick ass women would be pretty much the top of the list. So it should come as no surprise to any of you that I love Jim C. Hines' series of Princess books. The Stepsister Scheme was the first book I reviewed here. (If you want to read my review of The Mermaid's Madness, look here. Or just skip both, and buy all the books.) The latest in the series, Red Hood's Revenge, continues the tradition of a fabulous series that just keeps getting better.
Talia (Sleeping Beauty) has been my favorite of the princesses since the series began, so I was delighted that Red Hood's Revenge focused on her. Of course, the titular Lady of the Red Hood, Roudette, is fascinating as well, and this brings me to my main quibble with this book: I wanted more. (Honestly, as I read, I kept feeling like Snow, who would get distracted from the events at hand with wanting to know more detail. Not because the important elements weren't there - they are - but because I was so interested in them.) One of Jim's strengths as a writer is his ability to create real, complex, characters. It's obvious that he knows so much more about them than appears on the page. The way Roudette's backstory is revealed is completely in character, and I didn't care. I wanted to know more about her, her history, her previous encounter with Talia, everything she had been doing since donning the red cape. (Spinoff?)
In that instance, it's just a quibble. However, I do feel that Talia's relationship with Faziya really could have benefitted from further exposition. The way it is currently set up, it feels more like a fairy tale-type fiat plot, happily ever after, than an earned relationship. But that is one small, off note in what is a very complex and well-written book. Red Hood's Revenge is full of real people, with real emotions, in a real society, with real culture. That's an achievement that should be applauded.
Finally, I'll say that I wish these books had been available when I was in high school. Smart books about strong, intelligent women, who are all strong in different ways, and aren't perfect but are real... I would have read these until they fell apart. I've never seen the series on a YA shelf, and I wish I did, because I think that audience would really love them. But they are fabulous for grown ups, too.
FCC disclosure: I received this book from the publisher.