Author: A. C. Gaughen
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 292 Pages
ISBN-10: 0802723462 (Walker Childrens)
ISBN-13: 978-0802723468 (Walker Childrens)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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.
Quick & Dirty: Scarlet takes you into the heart of the Robin Hood lore with danger, romance, and a phenomenal story that will have you applauding the unique characters of Sherwood Forest. One of my favorite reads of 2012.
Opening Sentence: No one really knows ‘bout me.
Will Scarlet is not Will Scarlet. Well, not the one you’ve probably heard of. For one thing, she’s a woman. Her femininity is kept secret for her own protection, because Robin knows she’s hiding from something — he just doesn’t know what. With the Thief Taker brought into Nottinghamshire to catch Robin and his Merry Men, her secret puts everyone in danger. But despite the synopsis, the plot doesn’t really revolve around Gisbourne at all. It’s the Sheriff who’s up to no good, kidnapping and threatening to kill children to make parents pay their belated taxes. Except the taxes are so high people are starving to try and pay them, and usually only manage a fraction. Robin’s going to do everything he can to get his people (for they are rightfully his subjects) out from under the Sheriff’s tyranny. Lie, cheat, steal, and his Merry Men get into a hell of a lot of trouble along the way.
It’s the way these four — Robin, Much, John, and Scar — solve these problems that really makes the reader invested in the group. Scarlet is an amazing heroine. She’s strong and insightful, but misses out on some things — like, romantic cues — that add layers to her character and tension to the plot. Their dynamics are complex, evolving throughout the plot to add not only characterization, but really let Gaughen show off her talent. The etiquette of the period and the world building are perfect, dragging the reader into the bloody and dangerous world of romance and lies.
Without a doubt the characters are my first love in Scarlet, but the romantic subplot is a very close second. For once, it really is just a subplot, and the characters are completely fleshed out on either side. Scarlet’s not just falling for a hot guy, but a hero who’s flawed. Except, Robin is the Earl of Locksely and way out of Scar’s league. Then there’s John Little, who’s family’s horrible death has left him with some pretty sever commitment issues. But while he seems ready to put those aside for Scarlet, she’s battling her own issues that have left her scared — literally and figuratively.
It’s almost impossible to believe Gaughen is a debut author. Her writing is flawless and the voice phenomenal. There’s no way to put this book down after only a chapter. Four hours later, you may realize you only meant to read for a few minutes. It’s gripping and full of tension, with a lot of deeper emotions and issues people probably aren’t used to in a young adult novel. I pray we’ll get to visit the world of Robin Hood — if not in another installment (the book functions pretty well as a stand-alone, but you are left wanting more) then maybe in a spinoff. After all, Richard’s got to come back form the Crusades and give Robin his title back, right? Right?!
I slipped a knife from inside my vest and aimed at the brute’s open hand, the one not shaking Amy, with the unprotected palm toward me. I whipped it at him and yelled, “Amy!”
He dropped her with a roar of pain, and she shrieked and ran to me. I crouched down and caught her. “Run to your mam’s; don’t open the door for them,” I whispered to her.
She continued to cry but she obeyed me, running like the Devil himself were on her heels.
The man pulled out the knife as his counterpart unsheathed his sword. Swords are terrible. They are naught but big, heavy knives that most don’t know how to use right. I drew two more knives as they came at me.
“You’ll regret that, lad,” the one said. His hand were dripping red, though, so I were fair sure I wouldn’t regret that.
“Make me,” I challenged.
FTC Advisory: Walker Childrens/Bloomsbury provided me with a copy of Scarlet. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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