Scarlet Review

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet, aka Scarlet, is a thief. And a female, although this is mostly unknown outside of Robin Hood's band of merry "men". Hiding a dark past, Scarlet steals and fights for Rob, frustrated by her own tumultuous feelings regarding men, especially Rob and Little John. When Guy of Gisbourne, a notorious thief catcher, is hired by the Sheriff of Nottingham, Scarlet's secret is threatened. A secret that could very well get her killed, or worse, married.

The Robin Hood ballad has always been a favorite of mine, Howard Pyle's compilation of stories The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood is one my favorite books. I own and watch frequently the 1936 Errol Flynn movie by the same title as well as the anthropomorphic Disney classic. Amazing authors like Rosemary Sutcliff, Geoffrey Trease, Robin McKinley, and Theresa Tomlinson have all flirted with the notorious outlaw. Cynthia Voight wrote an interesting tale called Jackaroo that was reminiscent of Robin Hood, with a female as the main character. Robin Hood has been made into movies, TV shows, songs, comic books, and even a Lego set, which, of course, I owned)

I say all this to express my absolute love for this classic tale and how I am generally happy with the different retelling that has been created over the years. However, I am afraid that Scarlet was not my favorite addition to this 'genre'. (if I can call it that)

Scarlet's constant prattling about men and boys and her flirtations, that she swears are not, with Little John and Robin were the bulk of the story. Even her deep dark secret, which I promise not to reveal, revolved around this theme. I liked that Scarlet was a girl, it was a fun twist on a classic story, but there was far too much inner monologue and the story, which has always been one of adventure and action, became nothing but a angsty love triangle. The reader is never really allowed to get to know neither Robin nor Little John outside of Scarlet's twisted versions of them, which makes her a rather frustrating and unreliable narrator, even for her own life and feelings. The author relys on the reader's foreknowledge of the two main male characters as character development. We all know who Robin ends up with and it definitely is not Will Scarlet, so where is this story going? When the secret is revealed, I wanted to bang my head against the table because I saw it coming and I was just hoping that the author wasn't going there.

Scarlet is not badly written and I imagine that the girls who prefer romance, would enjoy it. Although I found the book cloying, it wasn't all bad and I did feel the need to finish it. Scarlet is a rather adventurous story with plenty of action and knife throwing. The love triangle is definitely original, but it could have been so much better, which is important when retelling something that has been told again and again for centuries.