Thursday, February 16, 2012
Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen
Most people think “he” is Will—but Will Scarlet, an infamous member of Robin Hood’s band, is in fact a fiercely independent young woman running from her past. When the Sheriff of Nottingham hires the fearsome Guy of Gisbourne to catch Rob’s band of thieves, Scarlet is forced to confront her past, as well as her long-ignored feelings, if she wants to save her friends and loved ones.
Not having grown up on Robin Hood tales of adventures and his Merry Men (I seemed to be more of the Brothers Grimm type), SCARLET was really one of my first introductions to this Robin Hood. And SCARLET is indeed a delightful book, featuring unusual “dialect” prose, sympathetic characters, and plenty of action and romance.
The star of SCARLET is undoubtedly the book’s eponymous heroine. SCARLET may be set in the early Middle Ages, but Scarlet is definitely a 21st-century kind of heroine: spunky, stubborn, and loyal to perhaps a fault. There were times in the beginning when her forcible resistance to accepting help was irritating to me, but as the story unfolded, it was easy to see why Scarlet always holds herself at a distance and is stubbornly determined to be completely independent of others. SCARLET also offers plenty of action—sometimes of the bloody type. The constant “movement” of characters allows us to see and get to know their different personalities.
The one thing that perhaps bothered me about SCARLET was, I felt, the book’s eventual descent into the love triangle that is all-too-often characteristic of any type of YA novel nowadays. I wanted the book to focus mostly on Scarlet and her friends’ increasingly dangerous troubles, in the way of my favorite fantasy novels; however, it felt too me like a good part of the last two-thirds of the book revolved around Scarlet’s dealings with two men who may or may not be interested in her: Little John and Rob. It’s not too much of a surprise who Scarlet ends up with, but I couldn’t help but feel that the other “side” of the triangle was rather unnecessary, and even uncharacteristic to Scarlet. Ah, another book sacrificed to the altar of YA love triangles.
Overall, however, SCARLET was an enjoyable and action-packed read that will appeal to a wide age range of readers. It definitely inspired me to read more about the Robin Hood myth afterwards, and it’s a refreshing new take on the legend for avid Robin Hood or historical fiction devotees.
L. A. Meyer
Cover discussion: Badass and beautiful in that ambiguous kind of way--beautiful or not? Male or female? Will...or Scarlet?
Walker Childrens / Feb. 14, 2012 / Hardcover / 304pp. / $17.99
Review copy received from NetGalley and publisher. Thank you!