Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: February 2012
Genre: Young Adult Adventure/Retelling
Series or Stand Alone: n/a
Synopsis can be found here.
Will Scarlet is tough, fierce and unlike any other brother in Robin Hood's gang of merry men.
Will Scarlet, is actually just Scarlet, a girl with many secrets. Falling into Robin's gang, she helps them steal from the rich, give to the poor and rescue the unjustly accused.
But when Guy of Gisbourne enters the scene, the danger is amplified. Scarlet is terrified of him and with good reason. He is a thief hunter, the best in the land, and there may be more secrets swirling Scarlet than she cares to admit, and Gisbourne is the key.
I love Robin Hood. I love Prince of Thieves Robin Hood (yeah, I said it), I love Men in Tights Robin Hood (and how could you not as I have a soft spot for Cary Elwes, who will always be my Westley) and I might even love the Robin Hood BBC version done a couple of years ago. (There my loyalty falters as I might have been rooting for Guy, played by the ridiculously handsome Richard Armitage).
Anyway, yeah I like Robin Hood, so when I found this retelling on NetGalley, of course I jumped on it. JUMPED.
And it did not disappoint.
Scarlet is every bit complicated, heroic, fragile and stubborn as I'd want her to be. She's young, confused and having buried all of her feminine qualities deep inside, she it totally confused about her feelings for Rob and Jon. Her life has been hard and while he may not believe she deserves love, she is hopeful that maybe with enough good deeds, she'll achieve the redemption she so very much needs.
Robin is the hero, and thankfully, more interesting and complex. He could have been the flat cardboard cutout of Robin Hood, but Gaughen's writing is wonderful. We see a layered, tortured Robin Hood, seeking penance for his deeds in the Crusades, trying to be the man he thinks he should be. He reminded me of Angel, in Buffy and not in a bad way. (Team Angel, kids.)
Robin's band of merry men are solid supporting characters, each with their own distinct voices. Especially of course, John. The big teddy bear whose open heart and past make him wary and vulnerable, but more warm and openly affectionate than any of the other boys, including Robin.
There is so much to love about this story. The adventure, the romance, Scarlet's voice, the twists.
I figured out stuff a bit early on, but that wasn't bad. It was so much fun to watch it all unfold, with a few AHA! moments. Well written, fast paced, I couldn't put it down.
Fantastic debut Ms. Gaughen.
Will there be more? I hope so. I can't wait to dive back into Sherwood Forest again.
Rating 10 One of The Best