In another of her fairy-tale mashups, Shurtliff brings inventive new dimensions to Granny and Red, whom readers met in the companion book, Rump (2013).
Granny, a witch, is none other than Rose Red, whose sister, Snow White, married a bear-prince. Red has powers, too, but she’s been afraid to practice after a particularly disastrous spell almost killed Granny years ago. So when Granny becomes deathly ill, Red sets off to find the strongest magic: eternal life. Red’s narration is dry and sassy, her mishaps colorful, her quest eventful and populated with other denizens of fairy-tale land. Accompanied by new friends Goldie and Wolf, Red follows directions provided by a disgruntled dwarf: there are three ways to stop death. What he fails to reveal are the pitfalls, allowing Red to debate the advisability of immortality as she witnesses the effects of each method. The most grotesque is The Magic Hearts, offered by the Huntsman—the same who saved the other Snow White (the one with the dwarfs) from her jealous stepmother and was cursed as a result. The adventures are thrilling, even frightening, and, while good and bad magic abound, what is most heartening is how Red and Goldie grow and brave it all together, selflessly helping each other.
Fairy-tale fun with resonant depth makes for another solid outing. (Fantasy. 8-12)