When I first saw this book, I was unashamedly unsure about it. I love the legend of Robin Hood. I’m weird about people messing with it. The premise was interesting- Will Scarlet, the thief of the band, is actually a girl- but, again, that’s messing with Robin Hood. And then I saw the cover art and was even more unsure about it- I liked the shadows and the woods overlay but thought she was entirely too pretty to be a he.
But then I read it.
Her voice captured me from the beginning. Written in first person, the dialogue in her head completely matches what comes out of her mouth. The bad grammar isn’t laborious or annoying, but authentic and relatable. She is strong but weak. Perfectly tomboy, perfectly feminine. Very real but obviously a sort of superhero. I loved it.
From the beginning, we know that Scarlet isn’t someone to be trifled with. Her thievery deserves a legend of its own! She doesn’t walk, she sidles. She sticks to shadows. She hates being seen and more than that she hates being seen as a helpless girl. As the story grows, her keen knife-throwing asserts itself as a worthy counterpart to Robin’s bow and Little John’s staff. Her acrobatic skills are enviable and her will to live sometimes surprises even herself.
Without telling us straight out, the generous writer lets us readers in on a few key juicy plot twists. The glowing thrill of anticipation is worth sacrificing a quick flash of surprise, however, and I loved being “in the know” about a few things. Don’t worry- she doesn’t reveal anything all at once! Details are fleshed out as Scarlet is ready to reveal them.
The guys that surround Scarlet- Robin (of course), Little John, and Much- are an interesting group of friends. Although Robin’s age is set around 21, he seems to be written much older. Of course, he carries the weight of the entire town on his shoulders, but something about him seems too Superman- he can be a little too noble and not enough fun. There’s no witty banter where this Robin Hood is concerned. John Little, on the other hand, needs to remember his size! He is so big in my head that some of his flirtatious gestures are kind of frightening! Scarlet could easily be overpowered by this guy, so any attraction to him is tempered with a little anxiety on my part. Much is a calming, steady force. He’s a good guy that everybody wants to root for. He even gets his own personal hand-fighting weapon as well as some very interesting specialized knowledge.
The bad guy is truly a bad guy! You will have no trouble hating him.
For violence: blood is spilt in a Hunger Games-worthy way. Throat-slashings and hangings abound! Not to be outdone, a little fire, a little dismemberment, and some torture also figure in…
So boys, don’t discount this one just because it’s written from a girl’s perspective! She’s pretending to be a boy, remember? The adventure, thievery, and fighting outweigh much of the femininity, and you too will want to be a whole lot like Scarlet.
4 out of 5 stars. Awesome. 🙂