My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It gives me great, great glee to think of Jim Hines’ version of Little Red Riding Hood: a formidable assassin, “the Lady of the Red Hood”, whose magical cape grants her the ability to take on wolf form. She’s the central new character in Book 3 of his Princess series–and it just so happens that she’s coming back for a second round against Talia, “Sleeping Beauty”, one of the few warriors to ever successfully stand against her in battle.
Turns out that the Lady of the Red Hood has been unleashed on the kingdom of Beatrice and Theodore, and she’s aiming for a rematch with Talia.
That we get a whole lot more of the backstory for Talia in this installment of the series is my other favorite thing about it. Our three heroines are forced to venture into Talia’s homeland to track down who’s hired the Lady of the Red Hood to come after her, and in the process, we get an excellent portrait of a kingdom that’s been forced to reshape itself ever since Talia’s unhappy story began a century before. Tensions are high between the humans and the fairies, and equally delicious between our heroines and the the assassin who’s come after them.
If I had any quibbles at all with this story, they lie in wishing that Talia’s homeland was a bit more distinct from Danielle’s; save for a few changes of style in naming of places and people, I had a hard time telling the kingdoms apart. It didn’t help either that the heaviest influence on types of fairies in this series is still European, which struck me as weird in Talia’s clearly Arabic-influenced kingdom (with the exception of the peris). But this was a pretty minor quibble overall and I quite enjoyed this latest book, including the advancement of the romantic subplot! Four stars.