Short Story Review: "The Cloak, The Clasp, The Wolf," by Trevor Denning, is a riveting read


“The Cloak, The Clasp, The Wolf” (2012), author Trevor Denning’s modern retelling of the classic fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood,” is a well-paced, riveting read.

 Denning’s self-published short story, available on Amazon, takes us on a midnight journey alongside a mountain community’s herbalist healer, Rose. She’s fetched from her home on the cusp of a storm by a small boy named Gabby Lewis to help his ailing Gramma Fletcher in a cabin up the mountain.

Rose stops at a tavern along the way to solicit help, but the men passing a jug there seemingly are too gripped by fear of the full moon and stormy weather to answer her call for help.

So Rose treks to the cabin alone, wrapped in her red cape and stalked by — you’ll have to read the story to find out what — or who.

When I dove into this tale, I was concerned the Appalachian dialect would slow me down. Happily, that wasn't so. I found the plain speech and mountain idioms were endearing and kept me solidly immersed in the hill folks’ world.

I also appreciated Denning’s choice to weave flashbacks together with vivid details about Rose’s trek up the mountainside.

Readers will find this particular Red Riding Hood is no shrinking violet. She blends common sense with a guarded, instinctively suspicious attitude, unlike the tripping, clueless Riding Hood in other versions of the classic. How fitting for a woman raised in a harsh climate, where survival often depends on strength of arm and sharpness of wit.

I’d heartily recommend this short story (Amazon Digital Services, 21 pages) to anyone looking for a clever revival of an old favorite.

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Unknown said...

Would you say it's a dark take on the tale, like the Brothers Grimm?

Rachel E. Watson said...

Yes, but I can't say much more without spoilers. :)