May 29, 2013

Book Review: Quite Contrary by Richard Roberts

Book Cover: Quite Contrary by Richard Roberts

Quite Contrary

by Richard Roberts

Age: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Horror

Format: Ebook, 317 pages
Published On: March 29, 2013
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: NetGalley + Requested from publisher for review (why? read here)

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First Sentence: "Mary, close the door. You are not going to the party."

One glance at the cover of Quite Contrary is enough to give you a hint that it's somehow related to a fairy tale of Red Riding Hood. I expected a darker retelling and hoped for some unusual twist. Maybe for the Wolf to be a good guy for a change?

Be warned - this is not going to happen [image source]

But if you start reading Quite Contrary expecting a simply fairy tale retelling you will be very surprised (just like I was), because Richard Roberts did something much better. Richard Roberts merged a lot of known and unknown tales, myths and urban legends into an unique story.

Mary Stuart, our heroine, is quite contrary twelve-year-old girl in other words stubborn, pig-headed and usually does opposite of what is good for her. Quite Contrary starts with Mary going to a Halloween party (although her mother forbid her of course) and then Mary accepts a dare to crawl into a underground tunnel in an old deserted house. This will prove to be just the first in a row of 'brilliant' decisions made by Mary. The rest of the teens maybe planned to scare or trap Mary, but Mary keeps stubbornly crawling forward and soon slips from our reality into another dimension and ends up in a forest.

By changing from her filthy clothes into Red Riding Hood outfit, Mary triggers that fairy tale and attracts attention of big bad Wolf. *cue in Barry White* I am not joking. With his cheesy lines and deep voice that was how I imagined this 'hairy murderous Casanova' sounded.

"That voice wrapped you in honey and velvet, deep and rich and passionate like an old time blues singer's. The body was a wolf's, dirty gray and big. Too big to be a real animal. Dark blue eyes watched me with confident intelligence."

Wolf declares his undying love for Mary and desire to nibble on her young flesh (or take a much bigger bite), but 'not in a way that would offend prudish minds'. While Wolf expects from Mary to run (the thrill is in the chase after all) I bet he didn't expect that Mary will run from that fairy tale into another. And that's how constant switches of ambient, characters and never-dropping tension will begin as Mary runs for her own life.

Little Red Riding Hood by sanguisGelidus, pacman23 & entdroid

If you like to read about paranormal creatures, then Quite Contrary will be a treat for you, because we will visit viking myths, fairyland, city or iron and yellow smoke, hitchhiking urban legends, New Orleans and much more. Although this definitely helped build the dynamics of the story, it was also annoying at times because as soon as I liked the current set of characters, Mary would go to the next story and leave them behind, sometimes even in critical moments. And I wanted to know what happened to them, because I liked them all much more then Mary.

Yes you heard me right - I didn't like Mary. I usually do not mind if heroine has issues or if she does not obey the rules, but Mary picked a wrong choice so many times (only because it was contrary to what was told to her to do) that she frustrated and annoyed me from the start. Thankfully, later on, Mary's decision making improves and they shift from unwise to just unconventional.

So, if you don't mind reading about 12-year-old girl who has a dirty mouth and attitude problem, and you like dark, gritty fantasy (with no romance) that merges details from other fairy tales and legends into fantastic and sometimes scary original new story, then I recommend you check out Quite Contrary by Richard Roberts.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5


  1. I'm really not a big fan of retellings but this one sounds like something really different. Who knows maybe I should give it a try. I mean sounds like a great mix of classic fairy tale and some new elements. Great review :)

    1. Quite contrary is not a real retelling. Sure she wears a Red Riding Hood outfit and is chased by a wolf, but that's it. There is no granny or a huntsman etc.
      Style of writing is not fairy tale-ish at all also, a lot more dark and sometimes even a little bit scary.
      Thanks, I'm glad you liked my review!

  2. I actually love the sounds of this! So many retellings mixed in to one! Although Mary sounds like a little brat; hopefully I can get past her attitude! Haha

    1. Yes I liked it too. It's really interesting mix of known and unknown stories and legends. Definitely very original.
      If it helps, Mary's attitude gets explained in the end and I understood why she acted that way. But it's still annoying that she would have a lot less problems if she listened to some good advice at the beginning.

  3. This sounds clever, I love the blending of myths and legends. Now stalking you legally everywhere..LOL

    1. Yes crazy combination of everything was my favorite part too.
      Stalk away. ;) btw I could have sworn I was already following you on twitter.


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