Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scarlet by A.C Gaughen

They rob the rich to give to the poor...

Robin Hood and his band of merry men are well known throughout all of Nottinghamshire, protecting the poor from the corrupt and greedy Sheriff. Robbing carriages by day, and hunting in Sherwood by night, everyone thinks they know these charming men who provide them with food and money... or so they think.

In an attempt to run away from her past, Scarlet joins Robin Hood's merry men disguising herself as a shy, but fierce boy, Will Scarlet. Only the Hood and his men know that Scarlet is a girl, but even they don't know her full story, Scarlet can't risk revealing too much for her sake, and the sake of the others.

But her past comes back to haunt her when the Sheriff hires a thief-taker to capture Robin Hood and his friends. The thief-taker is none other than Lord Gisbourne, someone who will brutally and mercilessly kill anyone in his path... especially if he knows Scarlet is hiding among the villagers.

As tensions and romances run high in the crew, Scarlet has to decide where her loyalties lie, and if some things are worth sacrificing...


ta-da! My blurb.
Let me just say... I LOVED SCARLET!!!

Why? Because the story is one that is magnificently studied and meticulously planned, allowing the story to be told from a fierce, feisty and enigmatic girl by the name of Scarlet, and changing the story of Robin Hood as we know it.

Scarlet was one the best retellings I've read, and please, take my word on it. The story was one filled with action, betrayals, ruthless killings, mystery and to top it all off a beautiful romance. It was amazingly written, the dialogue as well as the scenes, all of which showed a massive amount of care on detail. A.C Gaughen has definitely done research on the matter, which only adds to the awesomeness of such as awesome book.

The mystifying girl with a secret past. Scarlet releases a morsel of information now and then, but it keeps you guessing. Some bits you can (or think you can) guess but nothing can prepare you for how it all comes together.

Now, the characters. It could be said that I am being a tad biased due to the brilliance of the female character, and hey, I'm not denying it. But boy does she deserve the praise. Scarlet was the character that had the power to make the story great, or shoot it down in flames. She definitely didn't do the second because she put simply, she was awesome. Scarlet was this smart, witty, charming but a little stubborn 18 year old heroine that just kept the story going throughout the entire book. She wasn't an infallible character but I don't think she was intended to be, everyone has their weaknesses and omitting them would make the character unrealistic.

Scarlet was a brave character, but there were times when her flight instinct took over, you could call her a coward... or you could also call her smart. I'm betting on the latter. Despite her history, Scarlet loves her current life more than anything, I wouldn't say she enjoyed helping the unfortunate, I believe she'd rather everyone was well off enough that they didn't need her help but needless to say she would help them if just so they could survive the day. Loyalty is another of Scarlet's qualities, she'll fight for her friends, even if it means giving up her own life, and that is something that is undoubtedly brave.

One other thing. Her weapon of choice? Throwing knives. YEEESSS!!!!!! yes yes yes!!!
If there is one thing I love, it's knives... If Scarlet hadn't already broken my awesomeness-meter, this would have sent it soaring.

Now that I've finished (actually, I'm not finished but I'll move on because I can go on about Scarlet's awesomeness for ever) I shall move onto the others. The main-ish characters other than Scarlet consist of Robin Hood (Captain obvious, anyone?), John Little and Much. You've also got Tuck and the Sheriff etc.

Their crew is a small one, but always very lively. The characters are all very well written, each has their own personalities... I'd challenge you to find a character that's like another in this book (excluding the greedy nincompoops because they're the same in every book) but I don't think there are any. Robin Hood, is portrayed younger in this novel than in most retellings, he's only 21 but is still the clear leader. He practically sweats hope and inspiration :) He's caring and protective of his crew and will protect them with his life, he's a tad brooding and quick tempered which makes the story that much more entertaining.

At the age of 18, John Little, is a flirty bear of a man (young man?? boy??) who is also very protective of the crew, Scarlet in particular. He's funny if not a tad pesky at times, but it really does suit his character. He is also very persistent, and I found myself screaming at him several times. "Gah. he's gonna ruin everything!"

Much doesn't play as much (hahahaha get it? ) of a major part in the crew as the others, his story is that he's the miller's son and had his hand chopped off by the cruel Sheriff and was recruited by Robin and Co. He's a sweet boy and the youngest of them all at 16, don't underestimate him though, he's got a lot of fight in him.

I felt that A. C Gaughen was very, very clever in using the classic male character of Will Scarlet and converting him into a girl. It was pure genius. And the name! Scarlet. It's just so dang fitting, I love love lovie love it! I wouldn't and probably couldn't have chosen a better name for heroine such as this. Dang! I seriously don't know why no one's picked up on this before!

A fact that even a clueless fool like myself knows is that there is a beautiful, young, tame, defenceless, damsel-in-distress maiden by the name of Marian (at least this is what I learnt from the cute Disney version) who Robin ends up loving. Gah. All throughout the story I was waiting for this-this thing to jump out and ruin the story.

I could see it in my head:

"Oh help me Robin" She would cry from her window, waving her lacy handkerchief daintily in the wind, big eyes watering and looking oh-so -tragic.
eugh. **shudders**

But what's this? YES!!!
The radiant author that we know as A.C Gaughen would never allow such an abomination into the story. Let us all join hands in praise!!! Oh how could I have ever doubted you? A.C Gaughen wrapped it all up beautifully with a gorgeous bow on top.

Scarlet was an incredible story that now has me seriously doubting history, could Will Scarlet have been a girl? It could be true you know... :)
The story was absolutely enthralling and I have no doubt it will keep readers captivated for the years to come.

5/5 stars!

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