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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The Wolf and the Crimson Maiden by Anastasia Bolinder is an adaptation of an old favorite fairytale staple, Little Red Riding Hood, but with an intriguing and fascinating twist. Rose Emila Decanter is the daughter of a wealthy, ruthless huntsman who has the king’s favor. She is betrothed to the top knight in the kingdom but feels little for the man. She likens her life to being in prison, albeit a gilded prison. Emila seeks friendship and understanding in the village, but with her crimson cape, she is instantly recognizable as the huntsman’s daughter. The villagers fear and hate the man, transferring their feelings for him onto her. Her grandmother had always been Emila’s biggest champion and source of love, so when Grandmother died, so did Emila’s little joy in life. One day when Emila went to visit her grandmother’s grave to seek some momentary solace she was set upon by a band of robbers in the forest. Left for dead, her savior and rescuer came in the form of a wolf-man, Cole. Cole had been transformed into a wolf by a witch and was unable to reverse the curse. As Cole nurses Emila back to health, she discovers a warmth and a caring that has been missing from her life for so long. The strange relationship between the wolf and the young woman only continues to grow and deepen as Emila’s father becomes more violent and vile towards her.
I have read quite a few fairytale adaptations over the years but this one was different in a number of ways. The unique idea of the wolf-man and the burgeoning love between the two was clever and lifted this story above many of the others I have read that could be classified as similar. The Wolf and the Crimson Maiden is an excellent story full of excitement and adventure but still managing to continue that fairytale staple of delivering a sound, moral message to readers. Author Anastasia Bolinder has created characters that are immediately recognizable to the original story yet unique enough in their own way to distinguish them totally from the original. I particularly enjoyed the emotional gamut the pair experienced as they realized their growing love for each other but also the perils that love placed each of them in. The question always at the forefront of readers’ mind would be: “Is the greatest love of all the willingness to sacrifice that very love to save the life of the person you love?” In some ways, I wanted the story to continue and the author has hinted there are future adventures to come, which I shall look forward to. This is a well-written book well worth the read and I can definitely recommend it.