Wednesday, January 2, 2013

SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Scarlet
Series: Scarlet #1
Author: A.C. Gaughen


No one knows how Will Scarlet became a thief, not even Robin of Locksley, better known as the Hood.  And very few know that Will is actually just Scarlet, an 18-year-old woman who pretends to be a boy.

Scarlet, Robin, and Robin's band do everything they can to help the people of Edwinstowe evade the cruelty of the sheriff of Nottingham, the man appointed after Prince John declared Robin's father, the Earl Huntington, to be a traitor to the crown.  But when the sheriff decides to hire Guy of Gisbourne, a thief catcher, to catch and kill Robin and his band, the thieves must be extra careful.  Scarlet in particular must be careful, because she knows Gisbourne and his cruelty, and for her, the consequences of being caught would be worse than death.

My Impression

One thing I liked about this retelling is that the focus isn't on Robin Hood.  While he is an important part of the book, the main character is Will Scarlet, better known as Scarlet or Scar.  I liked being able to see Robin through the eyes of someone who follows him and can see the motivation behind his actions that no one else really sees.  We also get to learn the motivation behind other members of the band, such as John Little and Much.  This book really emphasized the importance of being in a group, and how all of their work wouldn't be possible if there wasn't someone else to watch their back, so I liked that each member of the band got some of the focus.

I also thought it was really interesting how, even though the book follow's Scarlet's perspective, the reader learns about Scarlet's past at the same time that the other members of the band do.  It would have been really easy to know Scarlet's motivation from the beginning of the book and just watch as she kept her secrets from her friends, but it was much more compelling to know that she is keeping secrets, watching her struggle to keep her secrets, but then also being caught in the suspense and frustration of the other characters who want her to trust them with her past.  I wanted to know Scarlet's past and that is why I kept reading.

One thing I struggled with as I read this book is the language.  Scarlet doesn't speak or think in colloquial English, so many times she used the word "were" instead of "was" as the verb of a sentence.  While I appreciate how difficult it must have been to write the entire book in this dialect (and it does remain consistent throughout the book), it took me a few chapters to become comfortable with the cadence of the speech.

Why I Picked Up This Book

I really like retellings, and though I enjoy retellings of fairytales, I have always loved to see new spins on folk heroes such as Robin Hood.  I discovered this book through Goodreads on my recommended lists, and I liked the idea of reading about Will Scarlet as a woman.

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tales, Romance
My Rating: Four Stars

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