Book Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

10 Sep

ImageWill Scarlet is Robin Hood’s best man–his secret, his shadow in dark places. But Will Scarlet has his own secret. Only Robin and his band of merry men know that Scarlet’s really a girl, and that he can throw a knife just as well as anyone. But when the Sheriff of Nottingham hires a thief-catcher named Gisbourne to take Robin down, Scarlet knows she’s in big trouble. Sure, Gisbourne would love to wrap Robin in chains… but there’s one thing he’d like more: Scarlet herself. Slowly, Scarlet’s other secrets unwind–secrets even Robin didn’t know–and it looks as though all hope might be lost.

I couldn’t put this book down. And when I finished, I dashed to my computer to check if there was a sequel. I had five minutes of pure elation when I learned that there wasn’t just one, but two… and then I found out that the next one isn’t due out until February. And I fell into a pit of desolation from which I don’t think I’ll ever emerge (until February).

Okay, so it wasn’t perfect. But it was pretty darn good. First off, what a fresh take on Robin Hood! If you love Robin Hood legends, I think you’ll love this–it’s got all the main cast of characters, Robin and Little John and Friar Tuck, doing their steal-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor thing, helping people out. But the main character is a woman, and an awesome woman at that. Scarlet isn’t just your “strong” hero (I use that word a lot, but is anyone else getting sick of it? Why are women only ever “strong?”). She’s multi-faceted: independent, good with a knife, able to cuss better than any man, perfectly capable of defending herself, sensitive, conflicted, brooding, grumpy, in love. I loved Scarlet in all her moods, and loved attempting to unravel her past before she really wanted me to.

Robin was just my type of character-guy–all noble and depriving himself of what he really wants as a sort of punishment for doing nothing wrong. Honestly, only John got on my nerves a bit with his flirting. If you can call it flirting–it honestly got a bit… er… assault-y at some points, which is one of my only complaints.

You see, there was a bit of a love triangle (can you guess who was involved there?) and I just felt like it was a bit too much. I’m fine with romance being a plot point. This book just felt like it was so much more without the romance being shoved in my face so much. Perhaps if I hadn’t known from the start Robin was into Scarlet I would have been more okay with the whole situation, but as it was, I just felt like it was too much. Not that I knocked any stars off this book for it. This book was amazing.

One of the things that I loved which others might find a bit more annoying was the dialect throughout the book. Very “English street urchin.” It’s narrated by Scarlet in the first person, which means “English street urchin” is what I wanted to hear when I read the book. For me, the proper dialect in a book really makes the book. This simply wouldn’t have been the same, and certainly not as impressive, if the dialect hadn’t plopped me straight in the middle of Sherwood Forest, really situating me in the setting. It drew me in and held me. I read the book in one sitting. However, I know there are people out there who hate reading things in a dialect that might be difficult to get into at first. As a writer, I love studying books written in a different dialect because it’s something that’s much-needed in my writing that I find difficult to pull off successfully.

Anyway, back to Scarlet–the plot is fast-paced and edge-of-your-seat. Like I said, I finished it in one sitting. Soon as Scarlet pulls a ribbon out of a coffin, you start to get a glimpse into her past and can’t wait to find out more, and how in the world she got to this place in her life–part of Robin’s band of merry men.

I recommend this to any fan of Robin Hood, along with anyone who likes “sword and sorcery” type fantasy. There isn’t any sorcery–unless you count the way Robin’s able to spirit people out of prison–but there are swords, and better yet, a feisty young woman wielding knives. 

I’d love to hear what you thought of Scarlet, and if any of you are eagerly awaiting the sequel, Lady Thief, due out in February.

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5 Responses to “Book Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen”

  1. megamad4books September 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I loved Scarlet too, I’m so glad to hear there’s finally going to be a sequel! Great review 🙂

  2. Light House Plays September 17, 2013 at 2:41 am #

    I am a really an avid fan of Robin Hood, and we are planning on collecting different versions
    so we could use it for our future plays.

    • inkhearted September 17, 2013 at 3:30 am #

      This book would make a great play! I’d definitely go see it. =)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2013: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 26, 2013

    […] Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen […]

  2. Book Review: Lady Thief (Scarlet #2) by A. C. Gaughen | More Than One Page - April 5, 2014

    […] To read my review of the first book in this series, Scarlet, click here. […]

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