Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

A.C. Gaughen’s “Scarlet” is a retelling of “Robin Hood” lore. In this version of the tale, Ms. Gaughen takes us to meet Robin’s band of merry men just a couple years after they joined forces. The sheriff is up to no good and of course, Robin and his gang are stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Ya know, the usual. The difference in this tale is that Will Scarlet or “Scar” to the boys is not exactly a “merry man”. No, he’s not sad. He just happens to be a she. A young woman haunted by her past, who trusts no one, not even Robin. And when the evil thief hunter, Gisbourne, arrives in Nottingham, she is forced to face her past head on.

This was just one of those books that I had been anxiously anticipating that fell flat and ultimately disappointed me. I was a big fan of the BBC’s Robin Hood (before the end of season 2. Ugh!), so I was really looking forward to this retelling. I was hoping for the fun, action packed stories of the legends of Robin Hood. And while there was action always present, it didn’t have that action-y feeling. I don’t now how to describe it. There was just some “umph” missing. It was exciting. I devoured it, but when I was done, I instantly thought “That was it?” The plot line just didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t enough. I absolutely loved her character development and the twist of having Will Scarlet be a girl, but the romance, the action, the bad guy (just a bad guy, no personality/back story other than he’s evil)... all left me wanting. It was the skeleton of an amazing story that just didn’t have enough flesh on its bones yet. My goodness, that is a grotesque description, but it’s the only way I can think of putting it!

I don’t want to be a complete “Negative Nancy” here though. I did devour this book and I think that there are many who will absolutely love it. It just fell short for me. One thing I must say though is that the author did an incredibly job developing a strong, flawed female heroine. You really get to know Scarlet and feel for her. It’s because of this wonderful, lush character building that I kept on reading. I really cared what happened to her and even though I didn’t care much for the plot in general, I finished the book and would be curious to find out what happens next.

So, give it a chance. Let me know what you think. :)

I received a digital ARC via This book is published by Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury). It is scheduled to be released on February 14th.

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