Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of In the Books, featuring Red of the Woods by Lana Axe.
We all grew up listening to fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and so on. In their original form, the stories were a gruesome collection and seem like horrible things to read to children due to their context, but they were fun. Red of the Woods was just as much fun.
The story opens with a town in a crisis. Their crops have failed, pets are missing, and things are looking bleak for the winter. Their reasoning points them to an old woman in their village, whom they accuse of witchcraft.
Seeking to banish the witch, the reverend and a small group of men approach Erthel and her granddaughter, Red, to inform them they are banished from the town. At hearing the news, Erthel proclaim her innocence, but her and Red agree to leave as it’s better than burning at the stake.
Once in an abandoned cabin in the woods, Erthel decides to go back to using her dark magic to gain justice on the townspeople for being so hardhearted. Having forsaken using her powers for years, Erthel is innocent of their initial charge, but the townspeople’s actions are too much for her to take. Once they are settled in the old cabin Erthel once lived in, she waits until nightfall to curse the village by sending a wolf to avenge her.
As a retelling, the story has the same fast, easy read of the original, but with a unique twist I really enjoyed. The author did a marvelous job of working it so that several parts have stuck with me after I finished, which isn’t always the case with a short story/novella.
I’m a fan of stories involving people that were wronged doing something to avenge their treatment. Let’s be honest, it’s something we all wish we could do at some point. I really felt for Erthel (I usually root for the bad guys) and hoped to see more rampaging, but the story was still satisfying. I look forward to other retellings of the Grim Fairy Tales in the future from Lana Axe.