Reviewed by KM Lockwood
Published by Bloomsbury in February 2012
No one really knows ‘bout me. I’m Rob’s secret, I’m his informant, I’m his shadow in dark places. No one takes me for more than a knockabout lad, a whip of a boy. They never really see. And I don’t mind that they don’t see. Like, when you walk through a room full of big men drunk off their skulls, it ain’t so bad to be ignored.
Summary by GoodReads
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.
In this debut YA novel, A.C. Gaughen uses Scarlet’s distinctive voice throughout. She reveals herself as an active, brave heroine with a great deal of attitude - and a hidden history which is gradually unravelled. Her emotional story focuses on a relatively small group of central characters, and particularly on a love triangle which is not resolved until the end. And even then, there is a possibility of further developments.
Though the tale is set in a medieval context, it is full of cheerful anachronisms. Do not expect an historically accurate book, think rather of films such as ‘A Knight’s Tale’ or ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’ and enjoy the exuberance. Clearly written for an American readership, it uses a spirited mixture of contemporary language and the author’s take on Nottinghamshire dialect. This gives Scarlet a memorable voice which pervades the whole book.
I do wish someone had pointed out that ‘Trent’ is the name of a river, not a place, but it’s not that important. I also thought that the cover looks more Edwardian than medieval – and Scarlet not much like a boy, but that’s fairly minor. However, I should point there are moments of violence – but nothing gratuitous. I must add that the fate of one very important character is left in the balance – so for those who want to know what Scarlet did next, it looks like a sequel is possible.
This book will suit those readers who want a romance with plenty of action, a distinctly fiery heroine and who enjoy a setting reminiscent of the Hollywood films of Errol Flynn.