Thursday, 19 April 2012

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet
A.C. Gaughen
Walker Childrens
[February 14, 2012]

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 have a lot of other books I should be reviewing that I read WAY before Scarlet, but we're going to call this my nod to Fairy Tale Fortnight (though I may do other actual fairy tale retelling reviews later on) which I would link you to but I'm trying to do this fast, but it's hosted by The Book Rat and some other awesome people so there you go.

So, I'm not all that familiar with Robin Hood. I've watched a documentary about how he might've been real and what would've been the true story, but I never really researched or made myself familiar with the characters.

That was something I really appreciated about Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen didn't just assume we all knew the details, she explained things. We got to know the characters in a way that mixed the original tale (I learned a lot from reading the author's note at the end) and the story Gaughen was telling. I never felt like I was missing something and instead it made me want to read more retellings to see how others take on the story of Robin Hood.

I really loved Scarlet. She was a very independent, strong character. She knows how to defend herself, she goes out of her way to feed others, she's crafty and clever, she takes care of her boys. People try to jump in and protect her and she's not putting up with that crap. She's got her knives and her wits and that's all she needs.

There's also this darker tone to Scarlet. She's had a really crappy past and it haunts her throughout the story. Family issues and money issues and guy issues and eating disorders that they can't call an eating disorder because nobody called the that back then. I really appreciated seeing this kind of stuff because first of all, it's not really talked about in historical fiction. Sure the family, money, and guy issues, but eating disorders? The type of stuff Scarlet faced before the start of the novel? I rarely see it get that dark and I think it sends a message that girls are not alone in what we face now, that girls have been dealing with this kind of stuff for centuries and people want them to get better.

I really liked reading about the boys, Robin, John, and Much. John kind of bothered me in a way. He seemed more like a brother for Scarlet, but he didn't want to be and I didn't like how he would treat her at those moments. And Robin was extremely moody, which the author does touch on in the author's note, but I would've liked to see it toned down. I also wouldn't have minded more of Much. But overall, it was fun to see them interact and work together and face their problems as a team.

A.C. Gaughen wrote a really fast paced, addicting story. I read this in a day and it's an average sized book. I started reading in the car as we were running errands and I didn't want to put it down, I even almost started reading in the restaurant we went into for lunch. Then I just sat outside for an hour and read, wanting to know exactly how it would end. It was almost dark by time I finished and I didn't really care.

So, there you go. I really, really liked Scarlet, I want more Robin Hood retellings, and I'm definitely keeping an eye out for A.C. Gaughen's next book.

--Julie

3 comments:

  1. Great review, Julie. I really enjoyed this one and I couldn't agree with you more. I loved Scarlet and I loved reading about the boys. Can't wait for more from A.C. Gaughen!

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  2. Scarlet sounds like the sort of female lead that I like. I'm going to pick this one up if I get the chance. Thanks for the review.

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  3. This one is definitely on my wishlist.

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