Blood Red by Mercedes Lackey
For the past several years, Mercedes Lackey has been exploring the fictional possibilities of folkloric tales from throughout Europe. In her Elemental Masters series, each volume uses a classic folk tale as its starting point for a scenario or its characters, and then goes off into a fantasy story set in the Victorian period, in England or on the continent.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Blood Red was the little tastes of folklore, especially the Romanian parts that popped up. Also, I enjoyed the way that the story came full circle thematically, which I can’t explain without giving away part of the story.
Like the other books in this series, it has some connection or parallel to a classic folktale, in this case the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Much better than the recent film adaptations, this one actually made sense. Taking place in Germany, Hungary and Romania, this story had a darker feel to it than most of the others in the series, and the weapons and armor added to that feeling, that somehow those dark lands lagged behind when it came to newfangled gadgetry. The world has steam trains and the like, but in Romania the land feels like it comes from an older century, and the telling of the story seems consistent with that. The attitudes of the nobility mirror that, with their “so what if we’re missing a few peasants” attitude.
Read this one in a well-lit room, as it maintains some of the dark side of both the Brothers Grimm and the Romanian tales.
-Nick S., Central Library