Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Book: Scarlet
Author: A. C. Gaughen
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release date: February 14, 2012
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary from 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.

First impressions: I have to confess up front that I almost put this book down after the first few pages. I found Scarlet's speech patterns to be jarringly irritating (she uses "were" instead of "was," as in "I were truly bothered by the way she kept saying 'were.'").

Lasting impressions: Dialect choices aside, this is a thrilling adventure about life in Robin Hood's gang from the perspective of a girl who can't see past her own perceived failings to recognize the strength she carries within herself.

Conflicting impressions: See first impressions, above. Eventually I got over it, and I'm so glad I stuck with it, but it's never a good thing when a character's voice is initially so off-putting.

Overall impressions: It's probably not my best idea to write this review immediately after finishing this (amazing, stupendous, terrific) book, because all I want to do is heap (amazing, stupendous, terrific) accolades upon it and call it a night.

Despite all of my grumblings about Scarlet's dialect, she wormed her way into my heart. While approaching a particularly poignant revelation about three-quarters of the way through the book, I reached my train stop on my way to work and got disturbingly grumpy about having to stop reading for THREE WHOLE HOURS until lunch. Yet when I got home with merely fifteen percent of the book left to read, I savored it because I couldn't bear for this to be the end of my journey with Scar and Rob.

I'm generally hit-or-miss with retellings, but this one knocked it out of the park. Perhaps my fond memories of Kevin Costner heaving that glorious mullet through a Bryan-Adams-soundtracked Sherwood Forest had something to do with my excitement for a new Robin Hood tale. (Don't act like you didn't see - and love - that movie.) Maybe I'm just a sucker for do-gooder redemption stories with tough, knife-wielding heroines. Whatever the case may be, it's safe to say that this one is going on the Special Shelf.

Scarlet, a girl on the run from a secretive and damaged past, has taken up with Robin Hood and operates among the townfolk as Will Scarlet to keep her identity as a girl under wraps. Robin, John Little, and Much are all aware that she's a girl, and although this fact keeps her as somewhat of an outsider among their band, Scarlet can hold her own in a fight. She has a hard time fully trusting her brothers for reasons not fully understood until they are painfully and slowly (in a good way) extricated throughout the narrative.

Things start to get overly complicated for Scar when the thief taker Gisbourne shows up in Nottingham. She's been on the run from him, but won't tell Robin why. Between the visible fear the usually unflappable Scarlet exhibits around Gisbourne, and the hints of a growing attraction between Scarlet and John, Robin starts to worry that Scarlet is endangering their band. Scarlet is all too aware that things are spiraling out of control, but as the Sheriff ratchets up the violence against innocent townspeople, she can't help but try to save them to put right what she feels has been a lifetime of wrongs she has committed. Fighting her past as well as her suppressed feelings for Robin, she is losing her grip on her destiny she has tried so hard to control, and it may be too late for her to give everyone their happy ending.

The romance and internal conflicts are expertly handled, and though this is a familiar tale, there are plenty of twists and surprises to keep you guessing. Scarlet is a lovable, heart-breaking girl who absolutely enthralled me, and the men vying for her attention are equally engrossing. You River of Time series Luca fans will swoon over John Little, whose charming personality forgives his skirt-chasing ways. And what can I say about Robin Hood? He's dashing, brilliant, and has a heart of gold. He wants to take all of the pain in the world upon himself to protect those around him. What's not to love?

You must read this (amazing, stupendous, terrific) book. Right now. If you read one book this year, let it be this one. And in case I'm not being clear, I'm telling you that this is a really good read. Do you see what happens when I review (amazing, stupendous, terrific) books right after finishing them and just before bed? I'm reduced to spewing gobs of praise in every imaginable form and hoping that some part of it seeps through your eyeballs and into your synapses that then march you into your bookstore to pick up a copy.

If it worked, be sure to let me know.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

8 comments:

Amanda @ On a Book Bender said...

I think your reviews are great when you write them right after you read them! Though, I also try to write my reviews after I read the books, so... perhaps I'm biased.

BURIED IN BOOKS said...

I can't tell if you liked this book or not. Could you be a little more clear next time?? LOL, Okay! I will rush out and buy this book! Is it out yet?
I'll get it as soon as it is out. But that doesn't mean I get to read it. I am still waiting for you to tell me how to save myself from my review schedule!

Heather

Karen said...

I read another "amazing, stupendous, terrific" review for this book just yesterday.
My reviews written immediately after reading a book I love veer more towards the "ZOMG this is SO amazing...read it NOW but I can't explain why" variety lol but I love when the passion for a good book comes through.
I'm really going to have to take a closer look at this one. I can't say it's something that I would have noticed before these great reviews.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Fantastic review Logan!!!! I know I don't always comment, but I read your posts because they're some of the most spot-on, intelligent reviews that are out there! Thanks for all the work you put into them. PS-I thought SCARLET was AMAZING!!!!!! <3

alexandrasscribblings said...

Methinks I have got to look out for this amazing, stupendous and terrific book now.
:-D for "Don't act like you didn't see - and love - that movie". Growing up, my younger brothers could quote practially every line of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, so when I finally watched the Kevin Costner version it was one big revelation. ("Ohhh, I get it now - Men in Tights is one big parody. Well gosh.").

Rubita said...

Oh, yayayyayay! I just got this in the mail yesterday and now I can't wait to read it. I hope I love it every bit as much as you did. I'm literally bouncing with excitement.

BUT I HATE WRITING IN DIALECT. Blech.

AND, I'm more of a Robin Hood, Men in Tights fan than Prince of Thieves. Sorry! Can we still be friends?

Logan E. Turner said...

@Amanda - It was actually kind of freeing to just write so soon after reading. I may have to do it more often.

@Heather - Yes! It's out! Go get it!

@Karen - I hope you pick it up. It's really pretty fantastic.

@Kim - Aw! You're making me blush! *fans self*

@Alexandra - Yes, Men in Tights is much funnier if you've seen Costner's first.

@Ruby - Hey, I love MIT too. We'll always be friends.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

OH I love the idea of this one. Most retellings don't catch my eye but this one intrigues me.

Post a Comment

I love to hear from my readers, so please don't hesitate to comment. Good or bad, inspired reflection or spontaneous babble - I love them all!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs all images from the Poet's Keepsakes kit by Lorie Davison
Related Posts with Thumbnails