Review: The Girl In Red, by Christina Henry

Everyone knows the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The girl who wandered the woods alone in search of her Grandmother’s house only to find Grandma had made a few changes since they last met. But Christina Henry’s The Girl In Red is not the Grimm’s tale we know and love, it’s better.

When a disease known as ‘The Cough’ swarms the population (sound familiar?), Red embarks on a perilous journey to find sanctuary at her Grandmother’s house deep in the forest. Equipped with her love of apocalyptic novels, a tendency to overthink and an axe sharper than her wit, Red must defend herself against the wolves that prowl her path with guns poised to kill and eyes maddened with the desperate desire to survive. Her world is crumbling and everyone wants to live, but at what cost? Why does ‘The Cough’ have people’s chests burst open like something has slithered from their ribs cage? And most importantly, will Red make it to her Grandmother’s alive?

I have always been a fan of traditional fairytales, the dark, twisted originals and divine Disney remakes alike. But Henry’s ability to take a tale so well known that it has been adapted time and time again and make it fresh, new, and above all, exciting, is unmatched.

The Girl In Red, is one of Henry’s newest editions to her collection of fairytale retellings, most of which stick to a similar vibe as the original, but while Red is as gutsy as she always has been, taking on one wolf at a time, Henry has made her so much more. She is strong. She is damaged. She is caring. She is awkward. She is real. I must say, if I was caught in the midst of the so-called apocalypse, I would want Red as my guide.

This inventive retelling takes inspiration from modern dystopia and apocalyptic philosophies, (with an idea that is eerily similar to Ridly Scott’s Alien), and combines them with imagery I can only describe as abhorrently awesome to create a visceral world and characters you can root for.

In our current climate, with Covid-19 plaguing our world, this story is a must read. It will not only keep you from the immense boredom of self-isolation (or procrastination if you’re a student), it will force you to think how lucky we are. For Red, she lost everything, trekking across a treacherous country alone, but with the support of two tiny hitchhikers she reaffirms her faith in humanity. I can only hope that we can do the same. That and it is a bloody good read.

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