Series: Scarlet #1
Published by Walker Childrens on February 14th, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Retelling, Young Adult
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.
It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.
Scarlet, oh Scarlet, how do I love thee? *happy sigh* This book began to get a fair bit of hype when fellow book bloggers got their hands on ARCs of the sequel, Lady Thief, and not long after, it was picked as our next book club book! I have to say, I’m so freaking glad that I didn’t let the hype scare me off on this one, because it is seriously fabulous.
So Scarlet is a retelling of Robin Hood, and honestly that already boded well for me. I love Robin Hood, have done ever since The New Adventures of Robin Hood tore my heart out as a kid. I just forget this fact because Disney’s animated film was so meh. When I started reading, I was instantly smitten again, because it’s just such a great folk tale. I love A.C. Gaughen’s take on it – it’s seriously brilliant. I even went and read the author’s note at the end, because I wanted to know more and more about how she viewed the tale. Ugh, I’m just in love. It’s a fresh take on an awesome story that stays true to the essence and is highly entertaining.
Scar, or Scarlet, the main character is seriously brilliant. She is feisty and strong. She stands up for herself. She can be a bit rash, but only because she cares about people so much. She is one of Robin’s Merry Men, although most people think she is a boy. She takes on the persona of Will Scarlet. But there’s a lot more to her character than that. Scarlet isn’t her real name either. I loved finding out more about her. The only thing that I really didn’t understand was her thorough opposition to eating, but it appeared that she grew from that, so okay. I was worried, going in, because the whole book is written from her perspective, in her kind of “dialect”. Usually, I am fiercely opposed to dialects in books. It’s a pet peeve of mine. But it was really mild here, and it didn’t get in the way at all. All it is is “I weren’t” and “ain’t” and other such slang. But mostly it’s almost unnoticeable. Good thing, for me!
But aside from Scar, there’s of course Robin Hood himself – or Rob, as he’s mostly referred to here. Gaughen really catches the essence of the original tale in Rob’s character. I was instantly smitten. Robin Hood is just really sexy to me, okay, don’t judge me.
But Rob certainly is sexy and dreamy. He has his fierce principles that you just have to admire. Though he’s a bit more moody in this take, I felt like that mostly worked. He did infuriate me at one point because of a certain insult he used, but I feel like there’s so much depth to his character that I could read in between the lines. And in the context of the setting, I can understand his behavior.
Rob and Scar’s relationship is just pure gold. Scar is naive about her feelings for him, and he is hesitant to pursue anything, but they just have these small moments that completely steal your heart. There’s a whole scene about hand holding, which, you may know, I am extremely fond of. I pretty much shipped this from the first encounter, which was only made a little bit confusing because there is a bit of a love triangle going on. And I liked the other side too! *sigh* Time for a threesome, methinks. Basically: Gaughen really knows how to write chemistry.
Rob’s fellow Merry Men are brilliant as well. I really loved John, who here is a bit arrogant but playful and charming as well. He made me melt a couple times, pretty much. Much was pretty adorable too, but I really wished he got a bit more screentime. The relationships between these characters and also with the villagers were all very well done. I just love it.
The plot was awesome. I don’t know what to say. It’s really your classic Robin Hood adventure: they steal from the rich to help the poor pay their taxes. Gisbourne appears as a thief taker, tasked to take down the Merry Men. He and Scar have a past that is extremely interesting. But overall it was a page turner, a quick read, and super enjoyable. My only qualm was the ending. View Spoiler »Why was the marriage thing necessary? Why did Gisbourne still want to marry her at all? And why, when he just wanted to kill her afterwards? I dunno, I can tell there’s like something behind that story, but it just wasn’t well explained and felt a bit random. « Hide Spoiler