Review: Song of Moonrise (Singer Tales)

I have thoroughly enjoyed what I've read so far of the Singer Tales by Deborah Grace White, which is a more innovative and cohesive series than her previous collection of fairy tale retellings. For my next read, I picked Song of Moonrise to explore her take on "Little Red Riding Hood," a story often misinterpreted in other adaptations. Ever since the Red Riding Hood film came out in 2011, almost every new interpretation of this fairy tale turned it into a mystery story about a werewolf curse in the protagonist's family instead of an innocent coming-of-age story about learning who to trust. In fact, I got so frustrated by this trope that I wrote my own adaptation of the fairy tale back in 2013. While the Singer Tales version of "Little Red Riding Hood" does incorporate werewolves, it does so in a way that stays true to the themes of the story along with a princess twist and a heated romance.


Rosa was an adventurous girl living in the forest until her mother married a king, making Rosa a princess in a similar manner to Sofia the First. She struggles with the strict regulations of palace life and desires to be free to ride with the wind and go wherever her heart takes her, usually to her grandparents' forest estate. When the wild magic surrounding the forest becomes so potent that it could be a danger to those living near it, a royal courtier proposes a full evacuation of everyone living there. This turns Rosa into an activist to save the forest as she continues to frequent her grandparents' estate despite sighting one of the giant wolves rumored to roam near it. It is during one of these visits that she runs into Emmett, the crown prince of a neighboring kingdom. She takes spite of his concern for her safety, convinced that he is overreacting and that she will always be safe in the woods and wants nothing more to do with him. Unfortunately for Rosa and Emmett, their mothers see their acquaintance with each other as a matchmaking opportunity.

Meanwhile, Prince Emmett has been afflicted by a werewolf curse for years, struggling to keep it a secret while his brother searches desperately for a cure. Due to his naturally protective nature, he hates the idea that he might pose a threat to anyone and keeps the wolf well under control despite being inexplicably drawn to Rosa and her grandparents' estate. When he is forced to accept that he cannot stop Rosa from riding into danger at every available opportunity, he does his best to keep her safe from any dangers that lurk in the forest whether she likes it or not. Emmett and Rosa share a Bridgerton-style romance, constantly arguing and denying any romantic feelings they might have for each other even though it is plain to their families and anyone else around them that they are madly in love. This dynamic does not always work for love stories, but it does here because Rosa's main objection to Emmett rests in his determination to protect her, which comes from a place of genuine caring.

The twist at the end of the book was easy to see from a mile away, but that did not make it any less enjoyable. In fact, I appreciated that the author was more focused on the story and characters than she was on trying to outsmart her audience. I also liked that the book stayed true to the essence of "Little Red Riding Hood" while simultaneously making it a princess story by making Rosa both a girl from the forest and a princess later in life. Much of the book revolves around her learning to balance both sides of her life and finding a place where she can belong with the support of her mother, Emmett, and Otto, her well-meaning stepbrother. Though not important to the main story, I thought Otto was an excellent addition to the book. It is so rare to have strong brother or stepbrother characters in fairy tale adaptations. He comes off as a genuinely good person who does his best to get to know Rosa in the short time since she became part of his family and to be a supportive brother.

Song of Moonrise stands out as an innovative reimagining of "Little Red Riding Hood" and another excellent addition to the Singer Tales. The narrative skillfully intertwines familiar fairy tale elements with innovative twists, presenting a heartfelt exploration of identity, love, and courage. Through the compelling journey of Rosa, readers are drawn into a tale that honors the essence of the original story while adding layers of depth and emotion. The complex romance between Rosa and Prince Emmett lends an authentic charm to the narrative. Furthermore, the thoughtful inclusion of characters like Otto enriches the story, offering meaningful dynamics beyond the central plot. Song of Moonrise shines as a resonant princess tale that embraces tradition while carving its own path, leaving readers eager for more from the captivating world of Deborah Grace White's Singer Tales.

Comments

Sugar said…
Maybe a character as likable as Otto will be the romantic hero of his own book later! usually occurs.
Lisa Dawn said…
That is usually the case with this type of series.

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