By: AC Gaughen
When I got my first glimpse of Scarlet last fall, there were a few people I knew that had to get their hands on this book. Angie, being one of them. And, of course, myself. One of my favorite retellings of the Robin Hood story is Outlaws of Sherwood, which also happens to be the only book of Robin McKinley's that I've actually finished and enjoyed.
Scarlet follows much of the same story as every Robin Hood retelling, except this time Scarlet is not a head-strong boy, but a rather extra-ordinary young woman trying to escape her past. She's a loyal member of Robin Hood's band, though she certainly doesn't let anyone else in on that fact. Deadly with knives, and frankly, with her tongue as well; Scarlet can get in and out of anywhere without being detected.
I quickly became endeared to Scarlet. The girl has a history, to be sure, but she is never a victim. There were times that I wasn't pleased with her aloof nature towards Robin, particularly when she seemed to deliberately twist his words into something that wasn't intended. Of course, what woman hasn't done that from time to time? But, Scarlet does allow enough emotion to shine through that while she shows everyone a prickly exterior, you know that she really is just trying to get by.
The other members of the band are equally lovable. Much is there, but in this version, he's missing a hand after having it cut off for thieving. Robin is a strong leader, though Scarlet sometimes proves to be a little more than he can handle. I think the only character that I didn't love was John. He was a little too, shall we say, forward, than I liked.
If you like Robin Hood retellings as much as I do, then this one warrants an immediate trip to the bookstore. It's a fun, fast-paced read, and is not part of a series (yay!). And, at the end of the book there is a little background on the Robin Hood legend and a few other books are mentioned that are now on my to-read list. And, as a bonus, while there is a little violence, this book is squeaky clean!