Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Date Published: 26 February 2013 (originally 14 February 2012)
Age Level: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound
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.
Oh my goodness, I've found an all new love for Robin Hood. A. C. Gaughen has given us an absolutely fantastic retelling of this great outlaw hero story. I loved it all. The humor, the action, the attitude, the... everything! The only thing I didn't like was how long it took me to finally read it!
Scarlet is one fierce heroine. She's tough, lithe, clever, talented with a dagger (or five) and generous to boot. She may be disguised as a boy, but she is one of the best fighters and thieves in all of Nottinghamshire. She's incredibly loyal to Rob and the boys, and they to her. Though she is this tough, rough around the edges thief, she also has a softer side. It was quite wonderful to see her flashes of vulnerability, which only made her more endearing to me. Giving her a secret, hidden past that not even her boys know about, well, that was a brilliant move by A. C. Gaughen. Though I guessed her past fairly early (or rather, I hoped!), it was still an amazing journey and revelation. Scarlet is a complex character, but she is definitely one that you can put your faith in.
As for the gang, I think it's safe to say that I love them. I love Robin Hood. I love Much and John, too. Honestly, they're all so wonderful! Rob is definitely more of a mystery, as you never really know what's going on in his head, but there's no denying the pull you feel whenever he's present. He feels a lot, which you can definitely see, but he's slow to reveal himself. He's a great leader and he genuinely cares very deeply for his band and his people, which I love to bits. John, on the other hand, is quite different and outspoken. He is such a flirt! I hope this next statement isn't a spoiler, but I knew straight off that he had a bit of a crush on Scarlet. What surprised me was how long it took her to realize it! Frankly, she can be a bit thick sometimes. But John! I like John. He's a flirt, as I said, but he's also a fierce friend. He's kind of the big, fun-loving guy of the group, but boy is he loyal. Love it. As for Much, well, I really love him. He's the youngest of the group, but he frequently seems to be the oldest and wisest. It really hurt my heart when I found out he lost a hand when he got caught thieving. It seems such a loss for one so young and sweet. I really got a feeling that Scarlet truly cares for him and believes - as I do - that Much is worth so much more than the lot he's been given. He really is a special lad and I love that we get to see Scarlet trying to make sure he not only knows that, but believes it too. I think we can't have too much Much in this tale.
Though a lot of things were quite horrific (death, almost rapes, ridiculous amounts of sadness and cruelty), I felt that this story was full of so much hope! Robin and the gang are outlaws, yes, but they're outlaws in a world where those in charge are horribly corrupt. This group gives the people hope. They give them reason to carry on and dream of a time when their hardships can be over. When they are no longer under the thumb of a corrupt ruling class. In my eyes, that's a pretty great thing for a bunch of "outlaws." I sincerely love these characters. The heroes in this story are doing the best they can. They never give up, even when the stakes are stupid high. They're people you can root for. I love it. As for the bad guys, well... I don't want to talk about the villains. They are so awful, I don't want to give them the slightest bit of acknowledgement! So there.
The writing in Scarlet is picturesque. Does that sound cheesy? Well, if it does, I don't care because it's true! I could see everything clear as day as I was reading it, which is definitely a testament to the talent of the author. I will admit, it took me a little time to get used to Scarlet's speaking style, but once I did, I found it to be the perfect voice for this story to be told. Take the role of Will Scarlet and doing a gender swap was freaking genius. I mean, honestly, who would have thought to make Will Scarlet a girl?! Again, what a genius move. The action sequences in this story simply flew and were so much fun to read! This book should be made into a movie just for that alone, though the movie probably wouldn't do the rest of the story justice.
Scarlet is a fast-paced, action-packed gem of a novel. There is no doubt in my mind that it will steal the heart of every reader and stay with them for a good long while. Read Scarlet. It's a well-written, inventive Robin Hood retelling sure to suck in readers of all ages.
A favorite quote: “I turned to see three men on Rob, and I felt the sting of insult. Honestly, I were just as much a threat as him. Why did I only get one?”