Walker Publishing Company, 2012
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Like many people, I've long had an interest in Robin Hood, mostly fueled by the classic Disney film and this BBC series (mmm...Richard Armitage). I loved the idea of a female masquerading as male to be part of the band of thieves so I was excited to dive in. I had trouble reading it though. I could only read a few chapters at a time before needing to do something else. It wasn't that I didn't want to know what happened next; the writing style just was a bit hard for me.
I also had trouble writing my review for some reason. There was a lot that I liked, including a spoiler although I don't think it is much of a surprise if you're familiar with the Robin Hood myths. But there was one significant plot element that made me distinctly uncomfortable. So let's start with the good, then the unpleasant, and end with the spoiler, okay?
While I felt slightly naughty, I enjoyed picturing hottie Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne, no matter how despicable his actions were (and he's pretty awful). Guy is the villain called in by the Sheriff of Nottingham to track down Robin Hood and his band of merry men. He is ruthless but not in the book too much, leaving his presence to hang over the fear and desperation of the people.
As befits a story about a famous archer, there is plenty of action although not much archery in my opinion. I would enjoy getting to hear a little bit more about the archery but those who crave action should be pretty satisfied throughout this story. Also apropos for the time period are some gruesome deaths and dungeons.
Robin is noble (literally and as a characteristic) but he has some flaws as will be discussed below. The other members of their gang are Little John and Much, a sweet character-definitely one of my favorites! There is also a decent-sized village of people starving and struggling to stay afloat. We meet a lot of people but it was pretty easy to keep them straight.
For the most part, I liked Scarlet. She's very wounded with lots of secrets and hard-earned talents at stealing that aid the people in the area. Scarlet is wracked with guilt from several events in her past and they make her determined to prove herself. This is her second-chance and she has to do everything in her abilities to aid people.
What I didn't like was Robin and John's romantic posturing toward Scarlet. I was especially irked by Robin scolding Scarlet for giving mixed signals to John while Robin is the master of mixed signals toward Scarlet herself. She is basically already in love with him but she doesn't feel that he could ever care for her in the same way. John is a total player and it makes it hard for Scarlet to take him seriously. Robin gets so jealous without having declared himself and it made me disgusted with both boys; there is definitely some growing up needed!
Now for the spoiler:
As we read, we learn more about Scarlet's background, such as the fact that she seems to come from nobility and was once Guy's fiance. Whoever could she be? Well there was one important character from the Robin Hood myth: his lovely lady Maid Marian which conveniently is the birth name of Scarlet. I'm inordinately proud of myself for figuring this out far in advance of the reveal in the book.
Overall: A mostly fun debut that left me wanting more of Scarlet's fierce passion and determination to protect the people.