Book Review: Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent

Title: Red Wolf
Author: Rachel Vincent
Release Date: July 27, 2021
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
Rating: ★★★


For as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember, the village of Oakvale has been surrounded by the dark wood—a forest filled with terrible monsters. A forest that light itself cannot penetrate.

Unlike her fellow villagers, Adele cannot avoid the dark wood.

Adele is one of a long line of guardians: women who secretly take on the form of a wolf, in order to protect
their village.

But when accepting her fate means giving up the boy she loves, abandoning the future she imagined for herself, and breaking her own moral code, she must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her neighbors safe.


Red Wolf is obviously a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, except Little Red and her grandmother are the Wolf. Actually it runs in the family and it turns out there are guardian families in each village along the dark woods tasked with protecting people from the monsters within. It also gave me some Crucible vibes. Small villages full of people with mistrust in their hearts, pointing fingers at their neighbors.

The story starts out kinda light and fluffy, but got really dark fast. By the end we see that being a guardian is just another kind of monster. It was fast-paced and really kept my attention. I ended up reading it in less than a day and was really intrigued by this retelling. In a world full of Red Riding Hood retellings, this one offered something fresh and unique.

Adele drove me insane but I understood where she was coming from. One day she wakes up a normal 16 year old girl who loves and plans to marry the son of the village watch captain and that night she discovers she herself is something monstrous. It’s a lot for anyone let alone a teenager. We really got that young vibe from her and could see it in the decisions she made. I thought her selfish but wouldn’t you too be selfish if the life you’d dreamed of was just ripped away one day?

Cue the romance to add to the drama. We have a slight triangle, but also not? We know who she has to chose, who will offer her the better life in the long run because not even love can overcome ingrained hate. There were some sweet moments with both boys but I was firmly Team Max from the moment he set foot in the village.

The ending was so abrupt I found myself turning the page to read more and hitting the Acknowledgements. I understand why it ended how and when it did, but I wanted more. There was the potential for so much more and it felt slightly unfinished in my opinion. I also couldn’t get over Adele’s selfishness in the end. It may possibly all work out, we actually don’t get to find out, but how many people had to die for it to be this way? I just couldn’t let it go.

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