Author: A.C. Gaughen
Published: February 14th, 2012 by Walker Childrens
Summary (From Goodreads):
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.
A truly special and witty retelling, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen gives an authentic voice to the classic, Robin Hood, creating a story that lures us in with its promise of something different and unique.
In a dark and difficult world where women are inferior and owned, Scarlet wants her own life, she wants to choose her own path . On a road she thought would lead to happiness, she finds pain beyond what she ever knew possible and in her darkest moment, she comes across Robin of Loxley, a man of nineteen years looking for his own salvation. Together, with the help of John and Much, this small band of outlaws will do what they can to save Nottinghamshire from the corrupt Sheriff who seeks power that isn't truly his while also keeping the citizens from his evil clutches.
A classic tale, Robin Hood has always been one of my favorite stories. With the definitions of what is good and what is bad walking a tightrope of intimate proximity in a story that portrays a world where morals change and strength is demanded. Because, when your children are on the verge of death due to lack of food, that whole "thou shalt not steal" commandment seems to be more of a suggestion rather than a command and the strength it will take to make it through every day is something you cannot even think about, it's just something you do. It's pain and emotion and heartache. And then every so often, all of that is broken up by blips of crucial enjoyment and it is those blips that push us through the muck.
I don't know if I'm explaining this as well as I would like, but to say it simply, the world that Scarlet lives in is hard and rough and sometimes morals are debatable and I like the line that type of novel is able cross. I love that Scarlet does what she can to stain her soul to protect and serve and in that way she saves others from the same dirt to their own. It's an interesting anomaly to see someone who in herself is almost a contradiction, but also gentle and kind. Scarlet is a female narrator I can love and care for. She is strong and witty and while she uses crass language and actions, she is undeniably female in other ways. She never lets anyone push her around or tell her what to do, but she is also supportive and genuinely cares for those around her. I suppose it is all her faults that make me care about her more as a character, which is usually how characters work best for me.
Scarlet starts off a little rough, only because Scarlet, our narrator, is written true to accent with crass language and all. However, after the first chapter or so, it made the story all that more real and adventurous. I felt the story through her voice and her eyes. Every interaction with (little) John and (one handed) Much and the devilishly attractive Rob, the noble outlaw. I definitely give props to Ms. Gaughen for being able to keep that accent pure throughout the book. It was rather fun for me once I got into it and it helped show the differences between the lower class and the upper class, which in such a classed society, is highly important.
And, let's be honest, what would a retelling be without Robin Hood? Well, it would be kinda hard, but lucky for us, Robin or Rob as he is more widely known in Nottingham, is in this one in great abundance. While the main story is told from Scarlet's POV, the story line never suffers from such. In fact, I enjoy watching Rob and the other boys attempt to understand something such as Scarlet. A female who dresses and pretends to be Will Scarlet, just another boy in the band. A female who never speaks of her past or the red ribbons she ties to her knives. A female who can hit a pin on the dot from yards away. Her mystery and excitement greatly lead to the fascinating perspective with which she represents. I could probably ramble on forever about it, so I'm going to stop now.
Let me just say, that overall, Scarlet was a wonderful retelling of Robin Hood. Ms. Gaughen has definitely given it its own taste and texture, providing a story we may know the general arc of, but then again...maybe not. Filled with surprises and strength, Scarlet is a dastardly fun read and I'm truly hoping there is more from where this book came from because it didn't feel quite finished. I give Scarlet a 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it to those who enjoy Young Adult, Historical, Fictional Retellings.