"SCARLET," by A.C. Gaughen, Walker Childrens, $17.99, 304 pages (f)
Will Scarlet is redefined in this new take on the classic tale of Robin Hood. Instead of a strong-willed man, Scarlet is a fiery woman who joined up with Robin’s gang to escape her dangerous past, and the Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne. “Scarlet” is a fresh and exciting take on this well-known legend, and will be embraced whole-heartedly by fans of the original thief.
Though Scarlet is running to escape the horrors in her past — and she is certainly haunted by them — she is never a victim. Scarlet does hide behind her boy persona and turns out to be as deadly with her tongue as she is with her knives. While readers will love her feisty nature, they will also rejoice with her as she begins to trust and be honest with those who care about her. And when her boys try to coddle or “look after” her, she’s quick to put them in their place. She, of course, has the knives to back it up.
Other members of Robin’s band of merry men are equally intriguing. The character of Much is there, but missing a hand after having it cut off for thieving. John is boisterous and quick to show affection. And, of course, there is Robin — or Rob, as he is known in “Scarlet.” Filled with secrets of his own, Rob is a fearless leader, but not a perfect one. Sometimes short-sighted and stubborn, Rob’s heart is in the right place, but some of his decisions don’t sit well with our heroine. Though Rob and Scarlet clash at times and assert their independence, the sorting out of their complex feelings for each other is as equally compelling as their disagreements.
“Scarlet” will hit a familiar soft spot with readers, and the entire book flows from start to finish. There will not be any wait for a sequel, since “Scarlet” is a stand-alone novel and has a satisfying ending. There is a moderate amount of violence, particularly on the part of Lord Gisbourne. However, there is no inappropriate language and only mild references to sexual conduct. “Scarlet” is appropriate for readers 12 and older.
Emily Ellsworth is a blogger at Emily's Reading Room at emilysreadingroom.com, which is dedicated to promoting a love of young adult fiction.