Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Scarlet

Star Rating 4/5


By A.C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet’s a thief—the best in the Hood’s gang. Robin, John, and Much all know it. All the townspeople in Nottingham benefit from it. But Scarlet’s full of secrets. The boys know that he’s actually a she, but she keeps most other things to herself. She avoids sharing any part of her past with any of them, including her real name. Instead she goes by the nickname Robin gave her when he found her—Scarlet or Scar because of her red-ribboned knives and scarred cheek. Unfortunately, Scarlet’s past continues to haunt her or, in reality, hunt her. Her thieving in Sherwood Forest has led to the hiring of thief taker Guy Gisbourne. Scarlet wants to run—Gisbourne gave her that scar, after all—but she can’t leave the boys now. Perhaps she can lie low, help the boys get enough money to cover the townspeople’s taxes, and get lost without attracting Gisbourne’s attention. Scarlet doesn’t hold much hope, but she’s got to help Robin. She owes it to him.

A creative twist on the Robin Hood legends, Scarlet gives young women a heroine worthy of the respect and love of the beloved people’s hero. Scarlet struggles with guilt and grief and with questions of honor, justice, and loyalty. She is troubled by a past she can not change; one she was at first too innocent to realize and later too powerless to alter. She desperately wishes she could change the decisions she made that led to consequences to which she was oblivious and naïve. Though she tries, Scarlet can’t escape her past or live life in seclusion. While Scarlet’s circumstances are extraordinary, her emotions and desires resonant with ordinary life. She, like each of us, must reconcile herself with her choices and the choices of others. She must move on even when she does not know what will happen next. With these struggles she helps bridge the distance between reality and legend, human frailty and ideal.

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