Penguin Books, 2010, 352 pages
Wars may end. But vengeance is forever.
Roudette's story was a simple one. A red cape. A wolf. A hunter. Her mother told her she would be safe, so long as she kept to the path. But sometimes the path leads to dark places. Roudette is the hunter now, an assassin known throughout the world as the Lady of the Red Hood. Her mission will take her to the country of Arathea and an ancient fairy threat.
At the heart of the conflict between humans and fairies stands the woman Roudette has been hired to kill, the only human ever to have fought the Lady of the Red Hood and survived - the princess known as Sleeping Beauty.
Obviously, I have been enjoying Jim Hines's Princess series since I'm now on book three. I can't stop making AD&D jokes, though. The writing actually is not overly reminiscent of a fantasy RPG, but there are moments in this book when you can practically see the characters leveling up. Danielle Whiteshore, aka "Cinderella," is actually learning how to use that sword of hers (though her primary talent is still being Ms. Diplomacy and also talking to animals), Snow is starting to become a little bit scary powerful with her magic spells, and Talia (aka "Sleeping Beauty") is still the Tank of the group.
In this book, the three princesses return to Arathea, Talia's homeland, where a few years before the start of the series, she woke up from her 100-year magical slumber in a very bad mood. Finding out that your family has been murdered and you've been impregnated by the scion of the usurping family while you slept will do that to a girl. Talia (as we already know from the little bits of her backstory we were given in book one) killed her "suitor" and ran.
Red Hood's Revenge isn't really about Roudette, aka the Lady of the Red Hood. It's about Talia. Roudette, however, plays a central role; as usual, all of Hines's baddies have deeper motives than the surface ones. Roudette serves as a contrast with Talia: they are both deadly warrior chicks who are quick to resort to violence, but while Talia is always talking about killing anyone who annoys her, Roudette actually does. They both hate fairies, but Talia values her friends above vengeance, while Roudette will sacrifice anyone to achieve her objectives. As Talia has to deal with Roudette and her bloodthirstiness, she's forced to confront herself, and you can see a slight softening in her attitude by the end.
Also, we get to meet her girlfriend, which makes Snow totally jealous even thought Snow doesn't Like Her Like That, and there's a plot involving desert tribes vs. city dwellers and different races of faeries, and the Wild Hunt.
Fleshing out the world in which this series takes place, Red Hood's Revenge reads more like a traditional swords and sorcery adventure and less like a reinterpreted fairy tale. There is some ongoing character development, and since the next book is the last in the series, I have a few guesses about how certain things will be resolved, but I suspect I'll be off-base, because Hines also has a habit of pulling surprise twists near the end.
Have you read Red Hood's Revenge?
Verdict: Red Hood's Revenge is an enjoyable continuation of the Princess series. This is the third book, and while in a lot of ways it's more polished and mature than the first two, it's probably not my favorite, which is not to say it's not good. If you like light fantasy with a variety of interesting characters good and bad, most of them women, examining a lot of issues that often get glossed over in genre fantasy but without using them as sledgehammers, I really recommend these books.
Also by Jim C. Hines: My reviews of The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid's Madness.
My complete list of book reviews.