Published: September 30th, 2010
By: Robert Paul Weston
When your dad is the wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood, life is no fairy tale.
Henry Whelp is a Big Bad Wolf. Or will be, someday. His dad is doing time for the double murder of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother so everyone assumes crime is in Henry's blood. For years, he's kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves on the outskirts of Dust City -- a gritty metropolis known for its black market, mind-altering dust. And the entire population of foxes, ravens, and hominids are hooked. But it's not just any dust the creatures of this grim underground are slinging and sniffing. It's fairydust.
When a murder at the Home forces Henry to escape, he begins to suspect his Dad may have been framed. With a daring she wolf named Fiona by his side, Henry travels into the dark alleyways and cavernous tunnels of Dust City. There, he'll come face to snout with legendary mobster Skinner and his Water Nixie henchmen to discover what really happened to his father in the woods that infamous night...and the shocking truth about fairy dust.
In case you didn't get it by the bunches of other reviews on fairy tale infused books on this blog, I'm a bit of a nut for anything involving fairy tales or magic. So when I saw this book on the shelf at my library, I was intrigued. The concept of a retelling (in an urban setting, with humans "hominids" and animalia [ravens, foxes, wolves, etc.] as each others' antagonists, mind you) was interesting to say the least. And Weston does manage to establish a world that is fairly easy for the reader to picture. He has a great descriptive turn-of-phrase, that really brought things to life for me as a reader. But there was some slightly annoying repetition of language, and overall stupid decisions, especially on the part of Henry Whelp. I liked the integration of characters like Jack, the one friend Henry has at the reform school. Jack is a mischief maker, and obviously some form of the kid from the "Jack and the Beanstalk" story. The Detective who is always waiting for Henry to slip up (she also put away his Dad) is Detective White, aka Snow White.
The main story of this book is a mystery of what happened to all the fairies in the land. They disappeared years ago, and with them went the magic that kept people's lives on track - and their hopes up. Another mystery interconnected with it is what really happened that night with Red Riding Hood and her Grandma. Is Henry's father innocent? Was he coerced by an influence he had no prayer of ever controlling or subverting? Just what sinister plan do Skinner and his Water Nixies, not to mention the manufacturers of the new, improved "fairydust" have for the city's animalia? Overall, it was an enjoyable read if you like noir and fairy tales, and don't mind the two being mixed together. As I saw another reviewer point out, it was far more of a children's book than I'd have liked, in its overall simplicity and slightly too easy character arcs. The ending is also somewhat loose and left me unsatisfied. I did enjoy the idea presented, I just wish it would have been better executed.
VERDICT: 3/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**