As part of the Fairy Tale Summer/Märchensommer you get my review for Ein Mantel so Rot (A Cloak as Red) by Barbara Schinko.
What is it about?
It’s not enough that the war has taken its toll on the land, but when Zoyas husband Venko returns to her as a wolf she can’t fathom what misfortune will befall her and her village. Right away they call him a “Raging Wolf” and Zoya has to fear and fight for her love.
Will she succeed in breaking the curse?
Little Red Riding Hood meets a human wolf in a tsarist-era in this mature adaptation by the Märchenspinnerei.
The reading experience
For this one I as well wrote down some thoughts in the Reading Group on Facebook (Magical Book Reading) and also kept track of them on Goodreads, so most things might sound familiar.
When I first saw the book in comparison to the others I couldn’t keep in the chuckle at how adorably short it is. At the same time did I fear that the 118 pages might be too short to tell a round story. Dude, was I wrong.
The story is divided into two parts and an epilogue telling the story of Zoya in chapter-like episodes without actual chapter titles. Within these chapters the sentences themselves are rather short as well. It was weird at first if you’re used to elaborate writing styles, but I soon realized that no more description was needed to create the fitting atmosphere and the characters. E.g. are those scenes were Zoya interacted with the other villagers or was with a man only shorty or vaguely described, but that didn’t mean you didn’t get a bad feeling about some of them.
The only thing that irritated me a bit was that I couldn’t properly sort the story into a time frame (tsar-time) and fully understand the references to old (Russian?) burial traditions and beliefs. Though they are well enough incorporated and it isn’t necessary for the Fairy Tale to fully understand those things, but it still feels like I’m missing out on something to fully understand Zoyas world.
One of the things I loved most about this story was that instead of the bite to become a wolf the old superstitions were used where you turn into a wolf by wearing a wolf pelt coat. The change through the pelt and the accompanying distrust was well portrayed, even if I can never understand why it’s always the wolfs‘ fault if something goes wrong …
The tone is completely different to the first Märchenspinnerei-book and much more mature. It’s a nice change.
Through the short descriptions no real connection to the characters is created, yet you can still feel the atmosphere they leave behind and you get a certain feeling about them. And I still wanted things for Zoya to get better. She’s an interesting character that goes through a lot during the story and makes a few decisions that are bad for her and I can only attribute some of them to her gradual decent into madness. Her way is interesting to follow and I was relieved once she figured some things out for herself. I’m still amazed at Zoya. To make such decisions, to make such sacrifices that can’t have been easy and yet she continued to go her own way and I think that’s what impressed me the most.
We don’t learn much about Venko, her husband, but what we do is enough to know that he deeply cares about her, which can even be seen when he’s a wolf.
The other man at Zoya’s side is the huntsman Grischa, who usually is the hero of the story, but here he gets a different turn and it’s partly terrifying. I can’t really describe him that much without giving away one of the two twists of this story. What I can tell you is, that I didn’t like him and that I was relieved when Zoya finally realized the same thing about him. Let it be said: When I finished the book I wasn’t sure who really was the „Raging Wolf“… (I talked more about this in the Reading Group, but there I wanted to spoiler, so. 😉 )
Another interesting twist on the original Fairy Tale was the grandmother. In the beginning there was the memory of Zoyas grandmother aiding her, towards the end there was an old woman taking up the place.
In the beginning I was skeptical about the length and the writing style of the book, but that soon changed. The short sentences and scarce description created a thick atmosphere where at some point it did no longer matter how detailed things were described. My personal highlight was the usage of the wolf pelt, as I have mentioned above, as that is really something modern werwolf stories usually ignore.
In addition to that did the story manage to surprise me twice, both times at the end of each part. I didn’t expect them and the real ending was good and I believe somewhat important. Not every Fairy Tale can have a Happy End.
The story alternates between relatively realistic and truly fantastical and is definitely something for more experienced readers.
Stuff I’d like to add
The blurb lies. 😉
As a reminder: As part of the challenge you can collect points by reviewing Fairy Tales yourself. 😉
On Thursday you’ll get an interview with Barbara about the book and some other Fairy Tale related stuff. And you’ll also get an update on the Neubrandenwolf, tomorrow. So stay tuned!
Plus: This is a scheduled post as I’m off to the Rockharz again. Accepting any comments will probably take me until Sunday/Monday. Sorry, for that, but I hadn’t expected that the Fairy Tale Summer would become this big … I already suffered for this decision as I had to prepare last weeks, this weeks and next Mondays post ahead of time …
So yeah, see you next week! 😉
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.
Another beautiful review. I truly love the amount of detail you put into these reviews. Makes them really interesting to read 🙂
Thanks a lot! I’m glad you enjoy reading them! 🙂