Review Blog

Aug 05 2012

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

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Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 9781408819760.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. ALA Teens' Top Ten Nominee (2012). The early exploits of Robin Hood are told in the voice of Will Scarlet, a thief from London. Dressed as a young boy, Scarlet is on the run from the Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne and manages to keep her identity secret from everyone except the small band surrounding Robin. She helps the people of Nottingham outwit the evil sheriff and together with Robin, they work to gather enough money for everyone to pay their taxes.
I have always been a fan of Robin Hood stories and particularly loved Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley so I was thrilled to read another book about the hero, but this time told from quite a different voice. Scarlet is rough and has a loud mouth. She takes no nonsense from any of the Hood's lads and she is a clever and skillful thief. She covers her fears and desires under a cloak of defiance and quick temper, holding her own in Robin's band. She is loyal to a fault and her courage and quick thinking are a real asset to the band of outlaws. Robin is portrayed as more than a clever man, stealing the rich to feed the poor. The reader sees his temper and his flaws but also the charisma that makes people loyal to him. Gaughen adds a touch of spice, as Little John seems to be falling for her.
There are thrills and action galore as Scarlet evades Gisburne, the thief taker. Gaughen cleverly builds up the suspense and ensures that the reader continues to follow the twists and turns of the plot, many of which are unexpected and exciting. The secrets that Scarlet are keeping tantalise the reader and I for one could not wait to find out what she was hiding from Robin and his men.
Readers new to the tales of Robin Hood will delight in this portrayal of the band, and those who have long loved the legend, like me, will be moved by the story and hope that A.G. Gaughen continues with more stories of adventure and romance.
Pat Pledger

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