Saturday, September 21, 2013

Scarlet Review

Scarlet (Scarlet #1)

Book talk:  What with King John demanding higher and higher taxes every day and the Sheriff finding more and more awful ways of gettin' people to pay 'em, times haven't been good.  Families are starvin' and innocent people are gettin' themselves thrown in jail or worse.  That's where we come in.  I reckon there's not a soul in Nottingham whose heart doesn't give a little flutter of hope when it hears the name Robin, excepting the Sheriff's men of course.  Everyone 'round here knows about Robin, Little John, Much, and me--Will Scarlet.  What they don't know is that I aint really a Will at all.  I'm a woman.   If they knew the one fightin' with guards and stealin' food and wearing trousers was a woman I doubt they'd be so fond of me.  But in dark times like these we all do what we got to do and we all have secrets to hide.  Things are changing though.  The Sheriff has ordered a special thief-taker in from London, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and if he finds out about me, I'll be done for.  I should really run, but how can I turn my back on people who need me so badly?  How can I turn my back on Robin?  I can feel it in my bones: these are dark times--and they're about to get even darker.

Rocks my socks:  Robin Hood has always been one of my favorite legends and girls cross dressing as boys to have adventures is one of my favorite tropes.  So it would be hard for me not to love this novel.  Scarlet is a wonderful, strong protagonist taking her lumps alongside the boys and proving that she's just as tough as they are.  I know it will annoy some people, but I enjoyed her colloquial, sassy first person narration.  The romantic plot was terribly cliche with its love triangle and protagonist attitude of "no one could ever love me so I will pine hopelessly" which naturally turns into "my bad: every guy in the story apparently wants me." Yet even though I knew it was cliche and I shouldn't like it I just couldn't help myself from squeeing over every innuendo and longing gaze.  The basic archetypes from the legends are re-imagined and fleshed out wonderfully by Gaughen with new, gritty back stories that add substance to the tale.  There's plenty of white-knuckle encounters and adventuring and outwitting of sheriffs to keep the reader turning pages.

Rocks in my socks:  About halfway through I reached a point where every time I read another simile involving Robin's eyes and the ocean I wanted to throw the book at a wall.  There were 6 similes or metaphors involving Robin's eyes and the sea or ocean and as the book went on they became longer and more detailed until it was a whole paragraph describing a stormy sea then likening it to Robin's eyes.  We get the point--if you don't have anything new to say, then don't say anything at all!  On top of this, as much as I love Robin and Scarlet they both have guilt complexes that got on my nerves.  They were both forced by circumstance to do things they regret so despite all the good they've done they both keep banging on about how they're really awful people and don't deserve to be praised or called a hero etc.  I suppose it provides motivation for why they go to such lengths risking themselves for others, but when it got to a "I'm the worst person" "No, I'm the worst person!" battle between them I had had enough.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to anyone looking for a dark adventure story or fans of fairy tales and other classic stories retold.  Naturally fans of Robin Hood and women cross-dressing for adventure stories like myself will enjoy this as well.  It is rather dark and violent so I'd save it for 7th grade and up.


A. C. Gaughen has her own website with the usual blog, bio, etc

There are not one but two official trailers for the book.  One's a half a minute and the other a minute and a half so you can choose the length more convenient for your purposes:

Source:  ebook from public library

Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen: buy it or check it out today!

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