Cloaked in Red

Cloaked in Red - Vivian Vande Velde This book started out bad for me – with an author’s note in which she makes fun of the original Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood.
Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species.
The question is: Why do we all know it?
If you look at “Little Red Riding Hood,” it’s a perfect example of the exact opposite of a good story.
Now I accept that everyone’s tastes are different, and it’s obvious that Ms. Vande Velde does not hold Little Red Riding Hood in high regard (“a strange and disturbing story that should not be shared with children”). Which is fine. But by stating, in the beginning of her book, that the original tale is “not a good story” she does alienate those who actually like the Grimm’s tale. I don’t know if it was a weak attempt at humor or if she thought that stating her opinion as a fact was a good way to beginn a retelling.

I didn’t like the eight new versions in Cloaked in Red. There was nothing inherently wrong with them, they were nothing special, nor were they anywhere close to being better than the original. They just fell flat. While the stories are all a retelling, they just take the superficial things from the original story (i.e. the red cloak, grandmother, wolf etc.), but nothing deeper, nothing meaningful.

So whether or not the original Little Red Riding Hood is good or not is subjective. No question, but what it does have, is a deeper meaning. There are all kinds of versions out there about what the story warns about. One can analyze for hours about whom the wolf stands for and why Little Red Riding Hood didn’t recognize him as a danger when he was pretending to be her grandmother.
The eight versions in Cloaked in Red however don’t have any deeper meaning to them, there is no hidden debth to them, and nothing to make one think more about.
They are just that. Eight stories. 1.5 stars