August 20, 2012

A Classic Reimagining • Scarlet

Scarlet book cover
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Publisher: Walker Children's Books
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Source: Bought || Hardcover

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.

I always admire authors who decide to put a fresh spin on an old tale, as A.C. Gaughen has managed to do with Robin Hood in Scarlet, her debut novel. This story is well-written and a very interesting twist on the lore that I’ve always known since I was a kid. I really enjoyed the reworking of Robin Hood’s story, and the fact that it was told from a different person’s perspective (and not Robin Hood’s). 

The main character, Scarlet, is based off of Will Scarlet, who was a part of Robin’s band of merry men. In this book, however, Scarlet is a girl – and that was definitely something that excited me and made me think. Not only do I get to see the entire tale of Robin Hood lived out through a female’s point of view (which is pretty cool and kickass, by the way), it comes across as believable. It made me stop and really consider the fact that Will Scarlet could have actually been a girl. 

I love the fact that there are multiple action sequences in this book. Because they’re in a dangerous and hunted position, Scarlet, Robin and their fellows John and Much are always running or thieving or scheming or training or… well, you get the picture. They’re nearly always involved in something or in the middle of it, and I loved that. There are times when I enjoy reading books that are fast-paced and action-filled; Scarlet was one of those books. 

However, while I did enjoy her character, I found that I could not completely relate to Scarlet. I think I felt like, in hiding her past from Rob and in merely hinting at it, I felt disconnected from her. While I think she’s brave and skilled and kickass, I only fell into like with her, and not love

I’m also not too big a fan of the romance in this book. I did swoon over Robin, since it was kind of hard not to love him after you encounter his character. But really, I feel like the romance could have been done without, like she could have just been a friend, rather than a lover. It didn’t take away from the story at all, mind you, but I guess I feel like even without it, the story could have existed. 

One more thing readers should be wary of – the language. It was a little difficult for me to get used to the way Scarlet speaks and thinks in the book at first (and this may have contributed to my being unable to connect with her). It does eventually become easier to read, once you’re used to it, and I found that the use of this type of speech definitely gave the book even more character. 

Scarlet was inventive, exciting and fun – I think A.C. Gaughen did an incredible job writing a kickass female into the Robin Hood story. While I didn’t quite connect with our title character, her story is still worth reading – if only so that you can experience Robin Hood from a completely different perspective that might just provoke you into thinking of all the what ifs related to this story.


  1. Man, do I ever need to read this one! I looooove Robin Hood (let's just say I was a wee bit addicted to that Kevin Costner movie) and just know that this book is one that I would really enjoy.

    Great review, Alexa!

  2. ooh this sounds like a great read ... adding it to my list. Thanks for the fab review x

  3. Been wanting to read this one! Loved your thoughtful review- I hope I can connect with the main character, but I'm glad it was still a kick-ass book all around!

  4. Hi Alexa! This is a great review! Despite the slight issues you had with this book, I'm glad you enjoyed it overall. It didn't blow me away either, but I did still like it too. :) I'm looking forward to more from this author.

    Your blog is beautiful by the way. I love the style! This is my first visit. ;)

  5. I really, really enjoyed this one. I also didn't absolutely LOVE it, but it was a super awesome adventure. It took me a couple pages to get used to the language, but after that I loved that the author chose to use authentic speech. It made me feel that much more in the story.

    I've always loved the idea of the story of Robin Hood, but I've never really liked the character of Robin in particular, so I loved that this story was told from Scarlet's (my favorite!) perspective, and that Gaughen re-imagined him as a girl. So fun! Glad you enjoyed. :)

  6. I love Robin Hood and retellings of the original story, but I haven't read this one. I just bought it since Amazon has had it on sale. I've loved reading what everyone is saying - I'm finding those mixed reviews that I love so much!

    I love kick-butt heroines and I like that about this book. I've read a bazillion different things about the romance: triangle/no triangle, etc. I really just want to be able to carve some time out to read it. It sounds like something I would like.

  7. I loved this book! It was such a fresh take on an old tale but I think I see your point about the romance feeling a bit forced at times.

  8. I bought Scarlet for my Kindle a few weeks ago, so I plan on reading it in the near future. Although I haven't read it yet, I feel like I'll definitely end up agreeing with your thoughts on Scarlet's relationship with Robin. I feel like many times YA authors have a relationship in their books simply because they believe that their readers will expect a relationship and be disappointed if there's not one. I'd much rather have well-developed characters and friendships than a half-hearted relationship. (And sometimes a lack of a relationship in a novel is just refreshing). Your review has made me that much more eager to read this book myself!

  9. I have been waiting to hear your thoughts on this one considering you were so excited for it at the signing! I must say, I cannot wait to read it now! Thanks for the heads up on the language. That can always be a huge issue with books. There are two books I've read the last year that I loved but the language made the first 25% of the book pretty difficult to understand. Yay for kickass girls and lots of action scenes!


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