BOOK REVIEW! Little Women and Werewolves
By Jessica Barton on July 9, 2010
This remastering of the classics trend is going to die, just like every other wayward trend in any industry, but let’s ask ourselves this: is that a bad thing? There are only so many stories that can be monsterfied before this whole idea turns into a spoof of a spoof and that might already be starting. People either love the idea of manipulating the classics into new forms or they hate it (many just don’t give a shit, of course) but most of the mash-ups in this odd sub-genre are in good fun. People seem to forget that.
Having read few quite a few now, I have to say that a lot these works are surprisingly great adaptations. I never go in expecting much but, more often than not, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what’s between the pages. The biggest thing to remember is that these are obviously meant to be taken with a heavy dose of humor.
HUMOR! Imagine that with a title like Little Women and Werewolves by Porter Grand.
Even though I literally can’t remember when I read the original Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (l think it was in middle school?), I do remember that I thought the movie was the best thing EVER because Laurie was soooo dreamy. Who knew I’d still feel that way about Christian Bale 15 years later? Delicious.
I digress. Reading Little Women and Werewolves unexpectedly motivated me to pick up the original text just because I wanted to see exactly what the differences were. My foggy brain recalled a lot of the scenes from the original but I couldn’t be sure how far manipulated Grand’s version was. I’m will to bet that anybody who’s interested in comparing is just rewatching the movie though and lamenting Winona Ryder’s hair with her, not actually picking up the book. (Don’t shatter my bubble if that’s what you’re doing. Read a book, hippie!)
So, I’ve been alternating between the two texts all week and all I have to say is: the Porter Grand version isn’t half bad. As opposed to the other books I’ve picked up in this new sub-genre, Grand does a lot of editing of the original text instead of haphazardly injecting her own werewolf theme alongside it, and it’s not a bad thing. In fact, I think it might even work in the book’s favor being that it doesn’t tell like two separate stories at all times, which can become a problem when you’re trying to write a new plot into an old one. That said, there ARE a few scenes that don’t exactly mesh and at times it does become apparent that we’re reading two authors. Despite those small instances, it reads smoothly.
Little Women and Werewolves takes us into the lives of the March girls, much like the original, but in this version a quarter of the population are werewolves and there’s a wolf hunting posse called The Brigade standing watch over non-wolfy citizens. The Brigade is a group of overzealous jerks who are “protecting the population” by murdering supposed werewolves and “werewolf-sympathizers” willy nilly. The whole concept screams “WITCH HUNT!” and it’s not hard to imagine that a group of fear mongering vigilantes might have formed along these lines if there were actual werewolf scares during the Civil War. Any excuse to strap on some letter and carry around a gun, amirite?
As the story develops, we follow the March girls through periods of teenage angst, the fresh poverty their family is experiencing since their werewolf sympathizing father has gone off to war and Marmee’s efforts to keep the girls safe from the scary shapeshifters at every full moon. In the spirit of not being a spoiler, I won’t give away the whole of the story but suffice it to say that the terrible Mr. Davis gets waaaaay more than he deserves for lashing little Amy’s hands and that Beth’s death scene is… uh… a bit different.
I think Porter Grand did an decent job of maintaining the tone of the original story and if Louisa May Alcott were around to read this version, I believe she’d enjoy it… especially since she had a tendency toward the macabre and balked at writing Little Women in the first place. She herself much preferred the Gothic and bloody thrillers and romances of her time to this coming of age work. She even penned a few under the nom de plume A.M Barnard — which will make the introduction to the book make even more amusing for those in the know.
Truthfully, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Little Women but I enjoyed this adaptation. In fact, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. However, if you ARE a rabid Little Women fan then perhaps it won’t be for you. Who knows!
As always, I love to hear your questions, comments and words of wisdom right here or on Twitter! Happy reading, nerdlings!