written by A.C. Gaughen
Walker Children's, 2012
Grades 9 and up
Reviewed from personal copy.
BLURB: Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.One of the things I find interesting about the book world is the fact that there are books for every sort of taste and temperament. There are books that others connect to that I don't like and books I like that other readers do not. This book falls into that category. For example, one of my favorite bloggers, Charlotte at Charlotte's Library didn't particularly like this book, but I find myself unable to stop thinking about it, something that only occurs with books I connect with in a strong way.
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.
I'm not sure why I connected with Scarlet and Robin so much. Maybe because I've always loved stories about Robin Hood. Maybe because Scarlet and Robin seem so real, flaws and all. Maybe because I love stories about courageous people trying to help others. Whatever the reason, I did find this book compelling. I stayed up way too late to finish the book, something I try not to do these days.
In any case, I found Scarlet a character I could really root for. She's far from perfect but she's got a good heart which she does her best to hide. After suffering a devastating loss just before meeting Robin, she tries not to get too attached to the band, unwilling to admit for the longest time that she would die for them, especially Robin. She and Robin are kindred spirits who suffer from great feelings of inadequacy, unwilling to forgive themselves for past sins, but who have dedicated themselves to helping others hoping to atone for their mistakes. John provides some of the lighter moments in the book (of which there are only a few) with his boisterous ways and Much is the gentle caregiver who wants to become a fighter like the others. As in the original stories, Gisbourne is a strong villain, the kind who deserves to die.
Plotwise the book moves along quickly yet provides thoughtful moments also. I am impressed with the way Gaughen kept the story moving while still providing for character development. There are several twists near the end that are gut-wrenching in their intensity. I am hoping there will be a sequel because the ending leaves several plot threads untied. Scarlet is left in an uncomfortable situation that I want to see her out of before I will be completely satisfied with the story.
NOTE: Some of the content makes this book more appropriate for older students. There is a moderate amount of swearing and profanity that I wish hadn't been included the story would have been just as strong without it. This language made the book seem not quite medieval. Also there is sexual innuendo, no graphic encounters, but the implications are definitely there. There is also a good amount of violence, which while realistic, gets graphic at times.