Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 292 (Hardcover)
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.
I am speechless as I write this review. Retellings are among my favorite types of books ever, so when I found out that there was a Robin Hood retelling out there, I immediately put it on my wishlist. Then the amazing Gina Rosati came along and insisted I read it, it showed up in my mail, and I got right to it. Boy, did this one blow me away. As kids, we all know of the tale of Robin Hood because he's the good type of thief that gives to the poor, but this book gives us more background to him, his life, and his loyal band: John Little, Much, and, of course, Will Scarlet.
The characterization in this novel is what makes it so perfect because I couldn't get enough of any of the characters. Will Scarlet, the runaway girl posing as a boy, is among my favorite characters that I have ever encountered. While she is strong and intelligent, she is also stubbornly hiding her vulnerabilities and the secrets of her past. She will stop at nothing to do what is right, even if the ways that she atones for her sins are questionable. Despite her tough exterior, she has a heart of gold and means well, and it's very hard not to fall in love with her as a character. She is devoted and loyal, and the type of girl who I would love to befriend. Her boys are all amazing as well. Much had his hand cut off in the past because he was caught stealing, so he is believed to be the weakest point among the Hood, but he is also the sole focus for understanding. He doesn't dwell on his disabilities and is always the first one to break up a fight and see the truth for what it is. He is a very endearing character that I couldn't get enough of, sort of like the ultimate big brother. John is the player of a group. He's strong, he's powerful, he's got a way with the ladies, but he also has some feelings for Scarlet despite his funny ways of showing it. And then there's Robin...the determined
and incredibly hot leader of the Hood. The good outlaw, the savior of the land, the banished earl...who will be my future boyfriend. In all seriousness, his characterization was spot on. Slightly broody and secretive, he's a fearless leader that is trying so hard to work through his hidden feelings for Scarlet as to not endanger the surrounding townspeople and the other bandmates.
As you can tell from the above character descriptions, there is a love triangle in this one. And as much as I despise love triangles, this one really helped move the plot around and was not in our faces. There was a lot of mixed signals thrown around, but the interactions between the bandmates diffused most tension and did not allow us to dwell on the attempted romances as the fast plot continued to move. The action, the plans, the thievery and creativity moved at a lightning fast pace that kept us flipping pages so quickly that there wasn't enough time to dwell on anything negative because there was nothing negative to dwell on. This book, without a doubt, is a keeper.
A unique, fast plot that had me holding my breath until the very last page, SCARLET is a book that is a must read. With a vile villain and an amazing band of heroes, you'll get all that you bargained for and more. Gaughen's attention to detail, amazing writing style and skill shines in this debut and it leaves me eager to see what other gems she will bring to the young adult literary scene in the future.