Will Scarlet is a brilliant thief, has more knives than you could count (and a deadly sharp aim with said knives), a sharp temper, and numerous scars gained before and after joining up with the notorious Robin Hood.
Will Scarlet also happens to be a girl.
But no one outside of Robin, John Little and Much are privy to that secret -- something she is hoping to keep even more quiet as the cruel Sheriff of Nottingham has enlisted the aid of the single-minded Thief Taker, Guy of Gisbourne. For all her stealth and cunning, Scarlet begins once again to taste fear at the thought of crossing paths with Gisbourne. But Scarlet's loyalty lies solely with Robin in his quest to help the misused people of Nottingham so Scarlet will stay and help him fight. Even as she watches her most carefully guarded secrets slowly come to light.
My love for the story of Robin Hood is one that goes back quite a ways. And despite the many, many book and movie adaptations, there are just a couple that stand out to me ones that do it justice. So when I came across reviews for new retelling by debut author A.C. Gaughen, you can be sure I was ready to test it out. Happily, Scarletis one of those rare breed of retellings that manages to alter the characters just so while adding surprising plot developments yet still retaining much of the original Robin Hood story. Which makes for one fresh and entertaining read you can be sure. I was drawn in by Scarlet's distinct voice from word go and enjoyed every single moment I spent in her company. I can see why Rob, John, and Much are so drawn to her. Just like myself, they see this person wrapped in contradictions. A thief who gives everything she steals, a skilled fighter yet a pretty girl, a girl with a foul temper and a tender heart -- she's too mysterious by half. A.C. Gaughen does a fantastic job at slowly revealing each new facet of Scarlet's personality.
Scarlet is a fine piece of historical fiction. Not only is Scarlet's speech rough and coarse but the author doesn't shy away from the violence that was a trademark of the Middle Ages. Death and pain were common aspects of life and Scarlet is surrounded by their harshness at every turn. Confronted by these stark realities at an early age Scarlet has naturally become a defensive person - often rude and unapologetic of her faults and for that alone I love her. Well, not that's she's rude -- but that she's not going to take the easy way out in life. Scarlet's a fighter. And sometimes she's just as deadly with her words as she is with her knives. Which is perhaps why her interactions with Rob are ultimately so satisfying as he plays the Hero to her Criminal. Even if she is something of a hero in everyone else's eyes. You can be sure I'm definitely going to add Scarlet to my oh-so short list of fantastic Robin Hood retellings.