Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

Tags: YA, historical fiction, retelling, Robin Hood


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.

Similar Authors
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!


  1. I've been wanting to read this one for a while!! Even with the love-triangle factor :) " Ah, another book sacrificed to the altar of YA love triangles." That just made me laugh out loud!

  2. I'm still so interested to see what this is like, even though it is a bit disappointing to me that romance plays a large part. I guess I was hoping that it would be mostly about the adventure aspects of the story. I haven't read too many dialect prose books but it really worked for me in Blood Red Road so I bet this one will work as well.

    And the cover? She kind of looks like Emily Deschanel from Bones! I don't know if I'd rather it was a real cover model or not...can't decide.

  3. I'm definitely really looking forward to reading this book. It sounds like an interesting twist on the Robin Hood story :)

  4. I've just come from reading a rather negative review of this over at Charlotte's Library, so I'm not entirely sure what to think. I am somewhat picky about my fantasy... so I'll probably wait until this is on the regular shelves at the library.

    Have you read Robin McKinley's version of the Robin Hood story? It was probably my least favorite McKinley (is such a thing possible?), but still a creditable retelling.

  5. For some reason, the Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood trope never interests me (same with King Arthur, go figure), but I really want to read this one! I'm a little iffy on the love triangle, but sounds like one of those "it's obvious who she will end up with" love triangles, which drive me less crazy.

  6. I hated the love triangle too as I thought both of the guys could be pretty jerky and possessive. And I'm also not a big Robin Hood fan although I do love the Disney version.


Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...