Scarlet (Scarlet #1)
By: A. C. Gaughen
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: February 14th, 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 try not to judge a book until I’ve reread it (or until I find myself incapable of rereading it). To me, the first read-through simply isn’t sufficient to really get the feel for a book and a writer. The first time through I allow myself to be dazzled by the writing and get swept along by the ideas. Then the second time, I go through and really let myself decide what works and what doesn’t. A lot of times, the fact that I even consider a reread is enough to put a book higher up on my approval (except for Libba Bray’s Great and Terrible Beauty series, which I’ve been unable to reread despite numerous attempts, a situation that I’m honestly puzzled by). Anyways, Scarlet is one where I let myself get absolutely swept away by the first rereading. It was a fast-paced plot, an intriguing character, and a well-known origin and setting. It took another read-through before I was able to really analyze things.
Scarlet is a retelling of Robin Hood, in its most basic form. The story is told from the viewpoint of Will Scarlet, who is really a girl (YAY for crossdressing/gender-bending). Scarlet, in contrast to the rest of the Merry Men, professes to us that she is a simple thief that’s tagging along for the fun of it. Despite this, her actions show her to be deeply caring and emotional. After all, the people need help more than ever–Tax day is coming up, with the Sheriff being estimated to take a good chunk of the crop, and on top of that he’s hired a thief-taker, one who takes things very personally towards the gang, and towards one member in particular.
There are a lot of things to like, overall. I like how Scarlet is portrayed–prickly, stubborn–and very human. She has a lot of hate towards herself, which is something probably a lot of readers can at least somewhat identify with, and deals with it in unhealthy ways at the beginning, like not eating. I like how, despite being the only female, she’s ‘one of the guys’. She’s usually the one charging in, and she’s never the one cooking or taking care of people–instead, all of the guys seem to take turns looking after her. I can’t say how well she suits the original stories, having never read them, but she seems to well enough.
What I dislike is the love triangle. Actually, at this point, anything minorly resembling a love triangle makes me groan out loud, and this is no exception. I dislike how, although she professes to hate when the guys fight over her, she does nothing to stop it, and how she leads John on when it’s obvious from the start that she has a crush on Robin. Also, Robin is of course perfect in every way and has never made a misstep in his life–John, by contrast, is much more relatable, being something approaching human. He also acts how you’d expect someone to act after being led on by someone he cares for.
The plot is also somewhat lacklustre. Quickly paced, a decent amount of action, but lacklustre nevertheless. The twist took me by surprise, but mostly because I’m not that well versed in Robin Hood stories. A hint–if you think about how many women characters are in the original, you’ll figure out the plot twist. The plot was otherwise intriguing, and fast-paced, which I appreciated the first go-round, but unoriginal. Still, it’s an enjoyable read, if not a great one, and I’d recommend it to people looking for something quick and intriguing.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.